The good news is that last week, my PhD research was 'Confirmed'. In Brunel terms, that means it has cleared the last internal gate and the next steps are submission and my external viva. Being grilled for around 90 minutes last week by two internal examiners (plus my two supervisors chipping in on occasion) resulted in my hypothesis being seem as viable; my methodology sound, my timeline realistic and my writing to date (approaching 40,000 words) up to the expected standard.
I didn't by any means nail the internal viva - the feedback was that I was still, in part, too journalistic, while paradoxically, not being sufficiently sharp on how my work will make a significant contribution to Eisenhower/early space scholarship. I thought I was being both polite and measured, and was desperately attempting to avoid the accusation of 'showboating' that I've been subject to before. It seems like I'd dialled down my performance just a notch too far.
Still, the whole point of the confirmation hearing is to get practice for the external event. I've learned quite a lot, and hope I'll be able to apply it when the time comes - some time in 2014.
The bad news is there's no time to rest on my laurels. On the way up, Confirmation feels like a big thing. Once through it, one realises it qualifies the Confirmed candidate for nothing. I have one core section out of three written and revised. I've started on the major context piece. The consequences are still some way off. I have anything from 40,000-60,000 words still to craft, polish and set.
It seemed that all my hard work was leading up to last Friday's event. The reality is: the really hard work starts now.