To PhD or not to PhD


To PhD or not to PhD, that is the question faced by many Australian writers as they realise that trying to write and make a living at the same time is a challenge.

To write a large work you need a substantial amount of time and brain space devoted to that project. Working and running a household, especially one with children in it, makes finding that time nigh on impossible. In order to support writing habits, authors need both time and money to pay for it. Grants for writers are few, and highly sought after. Royalties and advances aren’t what they used to be. Most Australian writers aren’t making a living wage from all sources, and the income from their life’s great passion, their “calling”, would make a teenager laugh.

But it’s really not that funny.

Writers and writing are valuable. As important to the world as butchers and bankers and lawyers. We are the story-tellers, the record keepers, the mirrors to our world, reflecting and enlarging upon what it is to live a human experience.

So we are faced with the age old dilemma – to PhD or not to PhD. Why? Because a PhD scholarship provides a steady stream of tax free income for three years. YES! A PhD in creative writing means you get paid to write your book, plus the required exegesis. Unfortunately this academic essay has many writers I know still quivering in post-traumatic shock. But, at this point in my writing career, it seems a small price to pay for the luxury of that princely below-minimum wage income for all those years.

Which is why I’ve applied to QUT to do a Doctorate in Creative Writing next year. I’ve found wonderful supervisors who have been generous and kind in their support of my project. That’s another big tick on the “To PhD” side of the ledger, the support and mentoring, the chance to reach out a few feelers to other writers, connect with like minds and get some valuable advice and guidance along the way.

My application is in. I’ve decided to PhD, now it’s up to the Writing Gods to grant me a scholarship … or not. Cross fingers. Say prayers.

And you? Would you PhD or not?

6 thoughts on “To PhD or not to PhD

  1. Hi Edwina, I think yes! I just serendipitously encountered several people & thoughts today that all led me to the same idea. You’re a bit further along the path than me but…all roads are leading to Ph.D. Land!

  2. Crossing fingers and toes for you Ed.
    Not sure that I’d PhD but that’s mainly because I’m a bit over the idea of studying, plus I really quite like the non-writing work I do & it pays well.
    You’ve already proved yourself as an academic writer, so I’m sure you’ll be fine! And if you get stressed I can take you out for tea and cake (cure for all ills!)

    • Thanks dear Fiona. Yes, if I had regular well-paying work I’d just keep plodding along too. Thanks for the tea and cake. There’s a couple of Avid events coming up on the 11th and 18th November I’m hoping to get to. Will email you with invites once I know I’m going for sure. Hope your writing is going well. xxx

  3. Hey ES, it worked for me. I was gonna write a book, ended up doing a stage show instead which was fun and interesting and focussed my thoughts about what the fuck i was up to in my academic life, and the exegesis turned out to be pretty easy once the show got done. Mine is out being examined now. Look forward to seeing you on campus!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s