is already in my head, my doctoral thesis, my files or on my bookcase. The process of transforming my PhD into a book is less about learning about smell in nineteenth-century art and much more about learning how to improve my writing and the structure of my arguments and to recognise the true significance of what I have to say.
I do still agree with most of what I wrote back in May, but I would suggest that those key points be followed in moderation. For example, I wrote before that I was trying to convey more of my own character but since then I have done away with most of the ‘I’s’ and the more personal touches, because I am writing for an academic press. Thanks to one of my colleagues, I realise that in the interest of attempting to write for a wider academic audience, I had fallen into the trap of making my writing match the seductive quality of some of the Victorians that I cite! In fact my writing is stronger when it works a little less hard.
Developing the characters in my research more - even the 'bit part' ones, has however proved very successful. For example, I quote various art critics who wrote about the idea of smell in nineteenth-century art. Previously, they had mostly been faceless names, who served me only in that they made comments pertinent to my argument. But I have found that even a little research into their lives has led me to make all sorts of relevant discoveries into their motivations, which can in turn strengthen my argument.
I expect I will be back in a few months, to say that this is all nonsense! It is certainly a learning curve and I see now that doing the PhD was only the beginning.