The Place Beyond the Pain

Diary of a Viva Ninja: Day 20

Black Hole

Set the controls for the heart of the anti-sun…

With two weeks to go, it is wise to consider ‘life after the Viva’. So much effort has been put into preparing for the Big Day, it is easy to forget an ‘afterwards’. It is such a massive point of singularity (for the respective candidate) – I certainly have found it difficult to imagine or plan anything beyond its event horizon. It is a black hole that sucks everything in (though one hopes there will be light at the end of the tunnel ;0). Certainly one has to prepare for questions about future research activity. A good response is to discuss your plans for various articles and papers. In this sense I have been able to think beyond the day of the Viva. I’ve already ring-marked chapters in my thesis for article-material. Shamelessly cannibalising one’s critical commentary does not feel so painful when one has already embraced the disaggregation that is necessary for the Viva discussion. Everything that you slaved over to create a (hopefully) coherent whole has to be broken down and defended in its constituent parts. Sending edited chapters off to fend for themselves in the cruel academic world doesn’t feel so heartless after that. I have even identified potential journals, one of which I am already preparing a submission for (a piece of side-research that didn’t make it into the thesis). And even at this late stage I’ve come up with an idea for a new article – just from reviewing some of the key criticism. There is a sense of one entering the conversation. It takes a lot of effort to get up to speed, but once you’re there (as in training for a marathon until you’re ‘race fit’) it is a little easier to sustain. Certainly I have found over the last month of two, by reading current articles I feel habituated to that rarified climate which I deliberately depressurised from over the summer. When I returned to it, there was a grinding and groaning of rusty brain-cogs, but now everything feels like it is purring along.  As well as the 4 or 5 articles I have planned I have also submitted an abstract to a major conference (Great Writing, Imperial College, London, July 2019), and await the response from a couple of pieces I submitted over the summer. Meanwhile I work on a new novel, one that elaborates upon the ethical aesthetics that I call ‘Goldendark’ (an anthology of fiction or non-fiction of which I would love to edit…). Whatever the outcome of the Viva I don’t plan to stop being actively engaged in my field. In that sense, it feels like I have achieved ‘lift-off’ as a creative-critical writer. Don’t stop me now…

VivaNinjadoodlebyKevan Manwaring.jpeg


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