Revisiting Old Work

Last week I waxed lyrical on my introduction to Cornell Notes, so wanted to update you on my progress with them. They’re…fine. I don’t feel like my life has changed much since I started using them (I was expecting fireworks every time I took up a pen, at the very least).

They’re actually not bad for making notes on a poem but, and this goes for notes on books and articles too, I found I was running out of space way too quickly. The temptation to write in proper sentences is strong in this one, so perhaps the space issue was my own fault, but if writers and academics stop adhering to the rules of proper grammar then we’re all DOOMED, aren’t we?

I’ve also not attempted to convert these notes into essay form yet, so can’t say if they make things any easier. I’m guessing I’ll probably give them a rating of “the same” since either way I’m slogging away at a PhD thesis, for which there are no quick routes to success…right? RIGHT?! Srsly, if you know one, tell me.


Googled “frantically writing” and this came back, so….

Actually, I do feel like I let myself slip behind schedule last week, mostly because I spent a lot of my time putting together a collection of poems to enter the Eric Gregory Award. I’ve been sending poems to this contest since I was 18 and this is my last attempt because I’ll be *ahem* 30 next year, so I wanted to give it some decent attention.

I’m under no illusion that I might actually win and Eric Gregory (they’re rather prestigious if you aren’t aware of their existence already), but it’s always good to put together different selections of poems, to figure out what works together and, as ever, to go over it all with a fine tooth comb seeking even the most minor edits. Great practice for a creative writing PhD, riiiiight?! Yes.

I like to imagine that sending creative work to magazines is a lot like sending research to academic journals (I have yet to attempt this on account of focusing on the creative stuff, not mere laziness/fear though I am lazy and filled with fear most days). My point is, it’s important to spend time with your research after you’ve written it, to stay on top of new theories and breakthroughs and to keep in mind everything you’ve said previously.

I realise that creative writing is different, but I always cringe myself inside out when I go back to older work and see exactly the same image or idea laughing at me from the page. For a long time it seems I was apparently obsessed with earthworms, mouths and recreational drug use…READ OF THAT WHAT YOU WILL. I’m actually a little nervous at this point to go back to my Marianne Moore research a year on in case I’ve just rewritten it and replaced “Marianne Moore” with “D.H. Lawrence” (see above re: filled with omnipotent fear).

I also realise that I’ve just contradicted my own advice by pointing out that I haven’t spent any time with my first year critical research. And I know I could edit that out to make myself look really great and “with it”, but I feel it’s far more important for you all to understand that I’m human and not just a robot the SGSAH have hired to churn out meaningless musings about life as a PhD student in Scotland. OR AM I? (The fact I’ve made this joke twice now should lead you to the conclusion that I’m not…robots have far more shame than me when it comes to repeating themselves.)


And with that, I’m signing off to try and edit these notes into a viable chapter.

As always, please get in touch if you’d like to write a guest blog. Email We have some exciting guest posts coming up from students across Scotland too, so stay tuned for those!

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