I thought that I would use this first post of the year to lay out some personal goals for the blog, my research and myself over the coming twelve months. I really hope that all come true, but I doubt it.
PhD: I am actually in the last stretch of my PhD and I have to submit the thing by October. However, my academic task in the next few months is to take the eight chapters I have crafted over the last five and a quarter years and turn them into a coherent piece of work that can be submitted in draft form to my supervisor. Theoretically, this should be easy, as in my head my thesis, which is on the management of the London and South Western Railway between 1870 and 1910, is pretty complete. The reality is that a lot of work needs to be done, especially to brush up on a bit of background reading. But I’ll get there, I have no doubt.
Blog: I have to warn you, given that these are the last ten months of my PhD, my blog may suffer due to a diminished number of updates. Already, the frequency of my posts has dropped to one a week and it is quite possible that as October nears I may need to reduce this further.
This said, I am committed to the blog and will hope to do some original research for it at points (naturally I may gush forth after October with a plethora of posts because of the freedom I will have). More importantly though, while I have made some wonderful friends through it, and hope to make more, it entertains many who read it and also helps my ultimate career goals (see below).
I don’t think the topics of my posts will change much. I am still interested in railway management, even though I may be sick to death of it by October. My continuing interest in Railwaywomen will feature, not just because I have already written a post on this topic for the future, but because I find it a fascinating area to study with new revelations coming forth every time do more work on the subject. I will also want to look at a bit more at the railways before 1870, as this area of railway history has received little investigation. Ultimately, however, all of Victorian railway history is still fair game for blogging about, and I hope to choose varied and interesting subjects to post on throughout the year.
Work: As I have mentioned elsewhere, I work in a public library part-time to fund my PhD. Unfortunately, like all who work in libraries, I possibly may loose my job by March. Therefore, it should not surprise anyone that one of my hopes for 2012 is that this doesn't happen. Yet, given this has been a possibility for some while, and to avoid not having the finance to fund my PhD, I have already paid off my university fees.
Nevertheless, one interesting thought has crossed my mind. If I am made redundant I’ll be able to finish my PhD early given the free time. Clearly that would not be in any way ideal, firstly, because this is not the way I hoped my career would progress (see below), but also because I genuinely love helping people at the library.
Career: I suppose I had it in my head that in this year my career would begin – whatever would be. I’ve had two main ideas since my PhD commenced; the first to be academic, the second to be a journalist and freelance writer. The former is an option. However throughout my PhD I have not done any teaching (and therefore have had time to write the blog). I would be very willing to teach if it was to lead me to better things, but I have never been over-keen on the idea. I dunno, maybe I’d love it when I get there. Furthermore, I have always considered that there may be an opportunity to get an research grant to do a project, perhaps on the early railways, so I may look into that as an option.
However, I think I am more interested in becoming the journalist and freelance writer (while keeping firmly in touch with academic developments). Firstly, given the cuts, I am not sure that positions in the academic world will be flowing as easily as they did in years past, especially for an early career historian. But secondly, I so enjoy writing my blog and would love to do something similar for some money (don’t worry, I love writing my blog so much that that will always remain). Originally, before the crisis hit, my idea was that I was going to keep the part time job in the library while building up my profile as a writer. Then, when I was getting enough regular work to sustain me, I would reconsider my position at the library. However, if I do lose my job, parts of this plan may have to be advanced. Nevertheless, whatever happens, I suspect I will be on that career road before the end of the year.
Love: I am sure I will secure the love of many new friends in 2012 whatever happens, as that is what occurred in 2011. Indeed, one of the joys of 2011 has been that I have met so many good, kind, supportive and loving people.
Indeed, I want to wish everyone a happy and productive 2012. I love writing my blog for such wonderful, supportive, generous and friendly readers and Twitter followers. I am always buoyed by your positive comments, your support for my work and your friendship. I cannot begin to thank you all enough. You are all so lovely.
And now for some blog stats from 2011:
Most visits on one day: 24 December – 284
Lowest number of visits on one day: 22 April – 12
Week with most visits: w/b 18 December - 576
Month with the most visits: December – 1,783
Total visits: 13,201 (Average - 36.17/day)
Unique visits: 9,651 (Average – 26.44/day)
Page views: 21,399 (Average – 58.63/day)
Pages per visit: 1.62
Average time on the site: 1 minute 13 seconds