100 Days – Day 10

10 days in. 10% of the way through the 100 days concept.

Where does the time go?

I’m not too worried about finishing my PhD in time.

What I’m really scared of is finishing at all.

For 3 years, it’s been on my mind most of the time. I’ve put a lot of things aside as things I’ll do “when the PhD is over”.

What I’m really scared of, though, is justifying it all. Not in the sense of defending the work in a Viva Voce, having to stand over it all in an academic context. Even with only about 70% of the thing done, I feel confident in my work in that sense. I’m scared of justifying spending the last 3 years of my 20s focusing so much of my time and energy on one, single, big thing like this.
I think it explains why I took on a couple of ill-advised and frivolous composition things in the early couple of months of the year – all worthy projects, but projects I didn’t have time for. If I hadn’t done them, I’d probably be 90% done with the PhD now and be approaching the ‘i-dotting’ and ‘t-crossing’ phase.

I’ve spent nearly 3 years working harder than I ever thought I would on my composition. Has it been worth it? I think if I look back at the music I was writing 3 years ago, and compare it to the music I’m writing now, that yes, it has been worth it. But even more than that, the PhD is allowing me to produce something of a body of work. Yes, my portfolio is chock-full of smaller pieces – the Christmas Carols, the songs, the organ pieces, the one-off choral pieces like Childish Things or O Sacrum Convivium – but it also contains 2 pieces I probably wouldn’t have composed hadn’t the PhD facilitated, and necessitated, their creation: My Cantata for Men’s Voices and Organ, The Falling Tear, and my current Work in Progress, Amra Choluim Chille. These pieces, 22 minutes and something between 40 and 50 minutes in length respectively, are not pieces I would have seen through in the time I have done so, were it not for the spectre of the PhD hanging over me, demanding that I produce them. And for that, I can only be grateful.

I have 90 more days to write about, but I hope to have the first draft of ACC finished by July 5th, when I’m going to Sweden with St Patrick’s. I hope to be able to print the thing out, and go through it with a big red pen – fixing what needs fixed, cutting what needs cut, extending what needs extending.

After that, who knows what I’ll find to ramble on about. I have 4 Christmas carols due, not to mention the actual commentary to write. I’m also hoping to find time to complete my Organ Sonata for addition to the portfolio, if possible. Otherwise, that’ll be added to the long list of “when the PhD is finished.”