A week in the life of the dissertating: nomadic writing.

by Anna Blanch on October 3, 2012

This was a week during my nomadic summer of writing in the US. This is part of a series where I share a week in the life of the dissertating process.


It seems that I was so exhausted from the weekend that I slept until after 9am. It’s been a good year since I’ve done that and it was a bit of a surprise. I was at Common Grounds, a Waco institution, by 10, waiting to meet a friend for Coffee. Her work, which she had forewarned, has been a bit hectic lately and I wasn’t that surprised when she emailed to say she’d been called into a meeting. So without a coffee date I settled down to writing. This place has a great atmosphere in the summer and I have lamented not being able to find anything similar in St Andrews. If all else fails I’ll open my own coffee shop wherever I end up…yeah, that’s a strange and unwieldy pipe dream that one!

I went to a favourite haunt for lunch with a former colleague of mine – a friend who’ve I missed greatly. We talked about the events of our lives and shared a little of our grief at the passing of a friend and colleague.

The news that a wonderful scholar, a compassionate teacher who expected much of her students and someone I am proud to have called colleague and friend had passed away was rippling across the campus today. My heart was heavy with the knowledge that her husband and students would be struggling at this difficult time. Sadly I will be leaving Waco wednesday just as the memorial service will be starting.

I met with the friend i will be staying with for the rest of my time in Texas and I joined her at the library for a couple of hours. I managed to find a number of articles that would be helpful for the final chapter, including that article I ordered from Interlibrary loan when I was in St Andrews and haven’t yet received. It took me 5 minutes to access it in the baylor library. Oh, how I miss this library and its staff!

Later I met with an incoming student with with whom I have mutual friends (who live in Scotland). We talked about some things it might be useful for him to know about living in Waco. I parted ways with him to have dinner with another friend before returning to her apartment so I can write and edit some.

Instead of writing I end up watching Northanger Abbey with her roommates. Everyone needs a little Austen adaptation in their life now and then.

I’m feeling like this deadline is looming at the end of this week. So a late evening of editing was called for!

I crashed out around midnight.



The weekend took more out of me than I realised and I woke late (for me). After breakfast with my host – a good friend I went through my Masters program with – I headed back to the coffee shop where I’ve been writing during my time here.

Free wi-fi and good coffee work for me.

A friend I originally met in Australia, but who is from central texas travelled to have lunch with me today. We talk, eat and end up a new local establishment meeting another friend. We talk sport, travelling, and politics. I leave to go and have dinner with friends. It is wonderful and there are catch ups big and small. There have been marriages and babies and many wonderful things.


My last morning in Texas for a while.

After another morning of writing, a friend drives me to dallas, though we stop by a great little south american restaurant in Fort Worth on the way.

It was called Gloria’s and the food was fabulous. So was the company!

I fly Dallas to Pheonix and then onto Ontario, California.


My flights are uneventful. I work and read. I arrive in Ontario and am out on the curb awaiting pick-up before my flight is even supposed to have landed.


California. i struggle to get back into writing. I end up at a coffee shop writing most of the afternoon. I have a deadline fast approaching and though I am high off having spent time with so many good friends over the last week, today is a hard slog.


I have a deadline today: edits of the Introduction and Chapter 1 need to be sent to my supervisor. I work for fourteen hours and send off the edits. I’m tired but it has been a balanced kind of week. i even finish the week off with a date. It was lovely.

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