Last week marked something of a milestone in the interminable struggle with my wretched PhD. For the first time ever a draft of the thesis lies about my hard drive in a very scattered and chaotic form, but at least it exists! All that remains now is to hew something legible out of the 95,000 words or so and get it in before the end of November! Simples.
My remaining plan of writing goes something like this. First job is to return to my four year old MRes dissertation on the contemporary history of British Trotskyism and take a huge axe to it. Out goes the extended theoretical discussion of neoliberalism and how it has affected the labour movement in this country, and in comes a discussion of the distinctive characteristics of Leninism and Trotskyism. This will lead into revised histories of the International Socialists/Socialist Workers' Party and Militant/Socialist Party up to the point of my final interviews (summer 2007 - just before the split in Respect). There will then follow short 700 word anonymised biographies of each of my interviewees.
When that is done I'll return to methods, which at the moment is a stitched-together corpse of a chapter closer to Robert De Niro's Frankenstein's Monster than a seamless discussion of in-depth life history interviews and NVivo. I am hoping most of the discussion there is up to scratch and won't entail a massive rewrite - but it has been two years since I last looked at it!
Then comes the biggie. Starting with the first chapter I systematically work my way through to the entire thesis, responding to my supervisor's suggestions and corrections and making sure all arguments reach their logical conclusions. This will be topped off with a revised conclusion and rewritten introduction and hey presto - a fully coherent first draft! Then it's a matter of getting my supervisor to reread it, revise, rereread, revise and then maybe ... just maybe it will be ready to submit.
I can almost feel the relief and elation bubbling through the quantum foam from two months hence. And after that I suppose I'd better look for a job!