At last they rode over the downs and took the East Road, and then Merry and Pippin rode on to Buckland; and already they were singing again as they went. But Sam turned to Bywater, and so came back up the Hill, as day was ending once more. And he went on, and there was yellow light, and fire within; and the evening meal was ready, and he was expected. And Rose drew him in, and set him in his chair, and put little Elanor upon his lap.

He drew a deep breath. ‘Well, I’m back,’ he said.

This post has been a long time coming. Last year, I decided to complete a Masters of Law degree. It was a 12 month full-time course. The only thing was, I was doing it while working full-time. If you throw in a five week trip to Europe, I essentially had just under 11 months part-time to fit in 12 months full-time study.

And I did it. On Friday, I handed in a 38,000 word, 146 page long thesis on World Trade Organization law and climate change reform. I’m sure I’ll experience a wave of emotions over the coming weeks, but right now I simply keep coming back to relief. Sheer relief.

As I was riding the bus to hand-deliver the thesis, I was chatting to a friend. He asked me how I was feeling. Obviously, at that point I was done: no more reading, no more writing, no more editing, no more bloody footnoting. Yet, the relief had not arrived. I said as much. “I think the relief will only kick in when I have this thing out of my hands.” Even then, with all the work done, I could still feel that tiny seed of stress deep inside my stomach. Already I could picture the woman at the counter going: this is bound the wrong way. And you’re missing a form. And you still need to do this.

My friend joked that it sounded as if I was talking about the One Ring. And, in a strange way, maybe I was.

I’m not someone who, on the whole, buys into the protestant work ethic. I think leisure, fun, creativity (basically happiness) is more important than working hard. That’s not to say that I don’t work hard. After all, I did 12 months of full-time study in 11 months of part-time work. But I don’t value that ability as a virtue. It was more a necessity. And therefore, where there were chances to take a break during the last year, I did. I didn’t have a single night where I worked into the early hours of the morning. I worked efficiently and I allowed myself to still have some semblance of a normal life.

But the power of the thesis could not be undone.

It weighed heavily on me, even when I was not working on it. I could find solace in things which did not involve brainpower, bad television and FPS video games. But with more creative hobbies?  I could not find the head space to work. The Sword of Damocles hung by a horse’s hair over my head, and it felt at any moment, the thesis might crash down on me.

So these last six months, in particular, have been tough on me. Now all that stress and weight is gone and I’m going to have to reacquaint myself with what normal life feels like. However, I’m looking forward to it! I’m going to get back into writing, cook more and with greater creativity, and get back behind the camera. My life is mine again.

I’m also nursing this blog out of hibernation. I’m not sure how regularly I’ll post; that is something I need to figure out. I know I want to write about my trip to Europe, which should be both fun to write but also read. And I’ll keep the writing side of things up to date. But beyond that? We’ll see.

Anyway, that’s all from me for now. I end by pointing out that despite all the craziness of last year, I did actually have a short story published at Farstrider Magazine, which you can find here:

Let’s hope the next blog post didn’t take as long as this one.