45 days after giving my Confirmation Presentation
I can say with certainty that I am officially…
I received the confirmation outcome advice from the Office of Research two days ago.
Here’s what the email said:
I am pleased to advise that the Chair of the Research Degrees Committee has approved the faculty’s recommendation to approve your progression to confirmed candidature in the Doctor of Creative Arts program at the University of the Sunshine Coast. Your revised Research Plan has also been approved and your thesis title updated as indicated:
Seed: cultivating permaculture-travel memoir through applied permaculture design
Attached to the email was a copy of the examiner’s report.
The main thrust of the report was that the critical and theoretical components of the proposal were sound: that I had done a thorough job pulling together the diverse, multidisiplinary strands of my argument, and that I had convincingly established the importance and innovation of my research.
In the examiner’s opinion, however, the 3,500 word extract of the creative artefact I’d provided was the weakest link. He thought that although the extract showed promise, it failed to exemplify the principles I was attempting to capture and that overall it was a poor example of permaculture-travel memoir.
His suggestion was that I use the coming months to embark on a phase of intensive practice-led research (writing and experimentation) to help me arrive at a point of knowledge regarding my research question:
‘What form might the capture and articulation of a permaculture-travel memoir best take…?’
The examiner’s recommendation was as follows:
Confirm candidature. It is essential that Nina now moves her research forward with a specific focus on writing, revising and experimenting with her creative artefact. While the contextual research demonstrated in the confirmation document is essential research in the lead-up to her creative practice, further knowledge will emerge during her writing practice; this knowledge, I suggest, will help shape her exegesis and original research aims.
Even though I found the confirmation process arduous and confounding, now I’ve completed it, I can appreciate its value.
The feedback from my supervisors is consistent with the examiner’s report: you’ve done good laying the theoretical foundations of your research – now it’s time to go wild and have fun with the creative writing process – forget what you think you know about the form, shape and scope of the creative artefact – let the practice lead you – don’t be afraid to fictionalise some components of your account of the real-life journey – and surrender to a more intuitive (less self-consciousness) way of working.
After twelve months of hard slog this is precisely what I wanted to hear!
The goal I’ve set for myself – post-confirmation – is to use the coming six months to complete a first draft of the creative artefact: unclipped, untamed, unabridged… all wild edges, bushy undergrowth and evocative rambling. Once that’s complete I can enlist the help of my supervisors to shine a light on what’s working and what’s not, what can stay, and what can go.
Thank you Paul, Clare, Dana and Ross for your encouragement and advice, and for the permission you have granted me to have fun with my research and explore the freedom to create.
A massive ‘gracias’ to Richie who only yesterday cleaned the windows in my writing studio (unbidden!) so that I may see more clearly the way ahead.
And thank you Tina for sharing with me the fruits of your writing practice – your short story describing my confirmation presentation from the perspective of an audience member was a moving memento of the day, which would otherwise, remain a blur in my anxious, nervy head. Your story is a beautiful example of the tendency whereby one creative endeavor begets another and how in this way, the creative impulse spreads like wildfire…
If there are any unconfirmed PhD or DCA candidates reading this post who would like advice regarding the confirmation process feel free to contact me. Some of the best advice I received was from other candidates who had been there, done that, and who’d lived to tell the tale.
Thank you to my BRAID friends and for Jay in particular: for your support and for sharing, so generously, the documents and experiences that provided me with a shining example of how to ‘wow ’em’ on the day.
What a relief to be a ‘confirmed candidate’. I have the next two years of my life to practice my craft and to develop a prototype of Permatravelogue.