Roadmap for my last semester!

I feel so relieved.  I’m happy that I know what to expect, and that the instructional design of this class is familiar.  Being in a comfortable, supportive routine is something I think I really need right now, because the last month has been a roller-coaster!  Personally, emotionally, professionally, and academically, I really crave the comfort of a routine that feels “normal.”

I also know that a solid routine is what I need in order to pick up that fishing pole again, and get back at it.  (The image gallery really spoke to me, and I know I have to return to the dock and get back to fishing, so to speak.) So, to do that, I need a solid roadmap.

Here’s what I’m thinking: The main focus of my work this semester, early on, needs to be developing my Literature Review further. I have a few, good sources which have informed my creative work so far, but there are now more I need to incorporate. Specifically, I want to tweak my focus to include traditional Alzheimer’s, as well as whatever specific disease my father will be diagnosed with. I’ve been doing a ton of the research as I navigate through the personal part of this process, and there are lots of terms that I’d never heard of just a few short weeks ago, but that have rocked my life in so many ways. The doctors are leaning towards corticobasal syndrome, which explains many of his symptoms, such as ideomotor apraxia. So, jargon and terms such as these, I think, are important to include in the research end of this project, both for the authenticity that they’ll lend to the writing, as well as to inform my own personal journey, and how I am using this story as an exercise in “speculative fiction” as a genre, for emotional support and exploration.

This leads me to my second focus, which is to really create a solid Research Proposal. I don’t want my project to just be a purely creative one. I’m very much interested in balancing the creative work with more traditional aspects of a Master’s Thesis, and I want to feel like I’ve done the work and really “earned” this degree. I want to make a contribution to the academic discussion on writing, and what it can do, and really try to forge some new ground with regards to speculative memoir genre development for therapeutic benefits, even if they are “just autoethnographic.” (No shade to auto ethnography, but it always felt like the least “research-y” of the methods, to me!) Still in all, I think this aspect of the Research Proposal is critical to this project.

And lastly, and certainly most obviously, the creative work. I think this part of my roadmap will naturally flow, but I want to make a conscientious effort to resist falling into this part of the project, since it’s already the most developed. However, I have some existing concerns, which my group was really great at helping me navigate in the Troika protocol. I am struggling to introduce levity to the writing, and frankly, into my life lately. Sun and Susan gave great advice, which I recorded in my notes as: “Suggestions from Susan and Sun: objects introducing funny/lighter anecdotes. No to the sarcasm. Does humor have to be the only vehicle of levity? No, literary devices like simile, or imagery. Good idea, Susan!” So there’s already a solid direction for improvement there.

With these three foci (I love Latin plurals!), and of course, the supportive advice, well of talent, and physical time and space to write built into this course, I’m feeling pretty optimistic about where this roadmap will take me! 🙂

Thesis Take Two!!

I cannot believe I am in the final course of my MA program. The time has not necessarily flown by, but it seems to have slipped away during this crazy time in our world and in my life. I would love to be able to say that I am fully focused on this project…but life. I am going to do my best to use this project to block out any chaos in life so that I can finish this thesis and then take the next steps in my life and career with confidence and courage.

In terms of my progress over break I was pleasantly surprised with how much I was able to accomplish. I had been stuck on two final little sections of essays for what felt like weeks during last semester and over break I needed to finish essays 5, 6, 7, and 8. To date, I have completed all but one section of essay 7 and I have not started essay 8. I was attempting to including research into the last section of essay 7, but I hated the way the section read with research within the narrative.

I have been toying with the idea of sidebar-ing the research in a stylistic fashion. Luckily during class Dr. Zamora had built in a fun exercise that allowed me to run this idea by Jessie and Bailey. Both ladies agreed that sidebar quotes and research would be the best way to include research.

That brings me to my next steps.

  1. Revise essays 1 – 7 for the next seven weeks for spelling, grammar, punctuation, and content.
  2. Find research/quotes to sidebar that connect to the topics being discussed in each essay.
  3. Add these resources to my BRAND NEW literature review, because I think I did it wrong in Dr. Nelson’s class. The literature review is where I think I will need the most help. My last literature review was for a different proposal. A few sources can be reused, but I will need to rewrite how they fit into my new proposal.
  4. I need to read a few literature reviews to see how to do it “right” and then actually write my own literature review.
  5. I need to rewrite my proposal. I think I will be able to do this fairly quickly.
  6. Write essay 8 – I may want to hold off on this essay if I feel like I have too much on my plate with all the revisions, proposal, and literature review.
  7. Revise introduction to the work.
  8. Create glossary.
  9. Reorder these steps so that they are in a more practical order to follow. I think that I should probably start with the proposal.

So… with that being said I am looking forward to meeting with Dr. Zamora for feedback on my fall submission so that I can start chipping away at my to do list.

Getting back into the swing of things

As I sit here on the beautiful snowy Sunday morning sipping my warm cup of chai, I have no idea what to write. I’m usually good at getting back on the grind, but I’ve gotten a tad too comfortable after a semester off. I told myself I’d try to work on my thesis during the time off, but of course, I accomplished nothing of that sort. 

During my time off, I shuffled through the idea of changing my thesis project. After two years of being a pandemic teacher, I feel like I have many insights to share. But deep in my heart, I know the project I started is very dear to me, and I want to complete it. So, after plenty of debates with my mind and my heart, I have decided to stick to the plan. 

The hardest part about this memoir is gathering anecdotes from my father. He’s always keen on sharing stories of his life, the glorious ones only, not so much the tragic ones. Not that I want to write some sob story, but I just want to write an honest one. I kept blaming writer’s block for why I wouldn’t go back to my thesis for some time, but now I know it’s just been fear—the knot of fear in my stomach that I will never write something wholesome or be able to ask my father the pressing questions needed to complete this project. 

*Insert break here

I took a quick break and free-wrote about my fears. It felt really goooood to release my feelings, and it’s like the knot in my stomach has loosened a little. So I think the plan is simple, get out of my own head and write. 

I will revisit the fifteen or so pages I have and revise this upcoming week. I also have a plan for where I want to take the story next, so I am hoping to draft that portion of the story this week. I also want to compile a thorough list of my sources for the literature review. 

Baby steps, easing into the swing of things…