Here we are in almost-October. I hope you are enjoying the cooler nights and shifting light, and the general ease into a new season. Just like the weather shifts from warm to cool/crisp, now we find ourselves in a “new season” academically speaking – we are shifting our rhythms and habits to make room for this large writing project. We are entering a reflective season which is well-suited for writing.
As we start to notice new growth while discovering the scope of your thesis, we continue to refine your weekly strategies and approaches. I am glad we have reviewed the Thesis Presentation “protocol” in anticipation of this feedback opportunity for each of you. Next week, we will look closer at Lit Review strategies, and you will also have time to share a first glimpse of your early writing.
As always, I will look to your blogs for an understanding of your individual progress, and I hope to touch base with each of you during Part 2 of our class time.
These two weeks have gone with a blink of an eye, but of constant learning and gossip, because I have gone into reading memoirs (to receive more information, clearly). However, not everything is memories, but I delved into what self-ethnography was, but to understand the term I had to understand what autobiography and ethnography were, because, after all, autoethnography comes from there. Thus, autoethnography is a type of research that seeks to systematically describe and analyze the personar experience in order to understand the cultural experience. So we have a formula autobiography + ethnography = autoethnography. The first term refers to the writing of past experiences and epiphany, which means that one must look back and selectively to select events in which life no longer seems to be the same. On the other hand, ethnography studies a cultural, relational practice of common and shared values and beliefs with the purpose of helping group members and outsiders to better understand a culture.
Thus, when an autoethnography is carried out, it is written retrospectively and selectively about epiphanies that derive or were possible thanks to the fact that they are part of a culture or have a specific cultural identity. However, it does not remain only in counting, but is a process of recounting experiences with theoretical and methodological tools, considering ways in which others experience similar epiphanies. So, personal experience can be used to illustrate facets of a cultural experience. There are ways in which autoethnography is presented, the first is narrative, where texts are exposed in the form of stories that incorporate experiences of ethnographers; on the other hand, the reflective document the ways in which the same researcher changes, or shows his epiphany.
Apart from all this, from the readings I have done I have understood that writing is a way to know a new method of research. So writing stories is therapeutic because it makes it possible to make sense of ourselves and our experiences.
Also, yes, obviously. I hit my 20 pages last night! I am calculating pages by 300 words equaling a page via YA novels. I am almost at 21 pages, but writing will no longer be the focus going forward for the next few weeks.
I have been focusing on writing even when I knew I was re-writing a scene that I had somewhere else or information that I couldn’t remember I had or not. Most of what I wrote was inner monologue and dialogue, I write in script form first and then flush out things later. I just needed words on a page. Now that that is done, I have the harder, more daunting task for a non linear writer like myself: editing, plotting.
Editing is something I love and one of my favorite things to do…for other people. I love taking someone’s project and helping them craft it to become exactly what they want it to be. It’s why I enjoy my academic editing job now and helping Communication student’s with their scripts.
That being said, having to go through and edit my own work. It’s tough. I am not nor have I ever been someone who plots their work from start to finish. I just write and let the scene, characters, take me wherever. Which can be nice and necessary, but extremely unhelpful when putting a big project together.
So I reached my goal and I am stoked about that, but now the bigger task comes and I am a little nervous and feeling a lot like I will be fighting procrastination moving forward on this.
To help keep me accountable, I plan to use novel writing tools and books and dedicate 30 min a day to sitting down and plotting. That will be the goal of the week and then hopefully after that I will have a better idea of editing and moving the scenes I wrote around as needed.
“When we’re writing memoir, we’re writing the small moments. When we think about memory, memory does not come in a linear narrative. Memory comes to us with lots of white space around it—and that’s where the poetry is.” (Jacqueline Woodson)
This quote really resonated with me this past week as I continue researching methodologies that accurately fit within my thesis. I have been so invested in cornering my work into theories that I hold dear rather than allowing my work to speak for itself. It feels like I have been steering my work rather than allow my work to inform me. I spent much of the last few weeks looking through my writing and analyzing what themes arise.
My writings sprout into many interdisciplinary topics such as trauma, culture, politics, sociology, and psychology deeply rooted in memory. What has arisen are the nuances of my lived experiences paired with the invisible hand of silence and what has remained despite everything is memory. Howard Zinn states, ” The memory of oppressed people is one thing that cannot be taken away, and for such people, with such memories, revolt is always an inch below the surface.” (Howard Zinn).
Moving forward I plan to invest more time researching concepts such as “the colonized mind”, the importance of memoir for oppressed peoples, qualitative interviews, poetic memoir as grounded theory.
A few research questions that I have narrowed down are as follows:
What memory/event informed each specific writing? How was it significant in my life/growth.
How are some ways memories resurface in trauma victims?
How is memory processed in the minds of oppressed people?
Last Wednesday a huge development came in my life as a professional wrestling fan that is sure to be a true gift to the progress of my thesis. I went to Arthur Ashe Stadium in Queens, NY to see AEW’s Grand Slam show. Now, aside from this being the biggest non-PPV event on AEW’s calendar year, it really shouldn’t seem like anything too special. I went to last year’s event, and it was probably a better show than this year’s, but show quality is not the point of focus here. Last year I was very much in the nosebleeds for Grand Slam, and this year I had floor seats. REALLY good floor seats.
I dreamt of attending a big wrestling show and sitting floor-level since I was at the big-boy age of seven, 17 years of my pretty young-ish life. A huge chunk. And this was not like seeing the old retired wrestlers of yesteryear relive their glory days at the Elk’s Lodge in Union, NJ close (not that there’s anything wrong with that). Rather, I was watching one of the most talented and notable rosters in the world, in their prime, peak legendary status, or come-up all showcase super proficient professional wrestling. Arthur Ashe holds 20,000+ seats, and to look at such a venue from a central floor level… It gave me chills. It felt almost spiritual.
AEW has had a good chunk of inner-turmoil and controversy lately, of which involves a backstage brawl, suspension, and ongoing investigation between who are arguably their four most seminal professional wrestlers (CM Punk, Kenny Omega, Matt Jackson, & Nick Jackson). What is going on now is frustrating for fans and the entire promotion, and a big of a red flag for the foreseeable future. It is also something that will likely be strongly bookmarked in the annals of professional wrestling history. I really hope that it wraps up before I start REALLY laying pen to paper for my thesis, because I think that it could very well be a key component to be presented in relation to the WHOLE thing.
Anyway, what truly made this event special is how it reminded us fans that what really counts is that AEW still serves as the fighting spirit alternative to the more “Disney on Ice ” presentation of professional wrestling that has dominated North America for the past 30-plus years. AEW is only a three-year old promotion, but if the show that I attended last week shows anything, it is that the company will still continue to emit professional wrestling love and craft through its most notable struggles for its fans that have a very legitimate love for the art form sport.
But wow, being that close to names such as Chris Jericho, Jon Moxley, and Bryan Danielson, and Sting was phenomenal. I have been watching these individuals since before I ever knew what boxers were, and it just shone a light on me just how physical this sport is. I can get super specific about that, but I think that this blog post is running its course a bit, and that could get super tedious for the rest of you. Wow though, it really sparked a whole new complementary yet mirrored view into my appreciation and internal understanding for professional wrestling, almost to the point where it feels like a new pair of shoes. There is so much more to bite into than I previously thought about, and it mainly comes from the act of watching the thing.
I have an entire iceberg to pick apart here.
Also, I got to see THE GREAT MUTA in-person!!! So significant.
“I was lookin’ back to see if you were lookin’ back at me To see me lookin’ back at you.” – Massive Attack
Okay, so my goal up to this point in my thesis journey was to at least have the whole thing mapped out, but I don’t even have that done. Haha. That confessed, I’m not really sweating it, and I’m also not claiming that I shouldn’t be sweating it… too much, but my forehead is pretty dry at the moment. I think that the reason why is that I have something even better, in my eyes and mind, a beginning! While I will not SPOIL what that beginning is here through blog format, I am meeting with a professor today to discuss it… in like an hour, so we’ll see what is stated about my starting point idea.
Okay, so also, my beginning “piece” has lore behind it but it actually hasn’t happened yet, it will be happening tomorrow, but I think it’s a good idea! Gosh, I feel like anyone reading this is eye rolling at me. Maybe it’s time for me to buy a map.
Okay, so fortunately for me I have a week left to get this whole “mapping thing” done and completed, which aligns perfectly with my beginning idea (*hint-hint*, All Elite Wrestling… today is Tuesday, tomorrow is Wednesday… ;)). Not that I think I’ll be in hot water if I were to show up to class next week with my goal in an empty-handed state, but I like not to disappoint and I am particularly fond of meeting my own standards.
Okay, okay, so I’m not okay (there ya go Edna!) because this schedule is still not one that I am used to. Kean did/does this really weird thing where the semester started on Thursday. I don’t have a Friday class, and Monday the following week was canceled. So my first real FULL week of school was last week. So I’m not okay but I’m almost decent. I think I got my time around it. I really like to work out too, that keeps me motivated, and a health scare a week or two ago really took my mind away from things (I’m okay in that sense I’m pretty sure). I’ll be going for a follow-up visit either this coming Monday or the next, just for the doctor to check on things, but I’ve been assured that it’s nothing too BAD. Check yourselves.
Okay, so I am a bit, not late on my assignments and other workings, but I’m running hard to catch up. This is not a bad thing, because I’m not too shabby at running and all that. I hit a 6 minute 10 second mile last month, so you know I can speed things up and burn out a little if need be. I’m not even stressed, and am in a good mood, really, but I’m just waiting for that one day where I can play catch-up to get back to being ahead of schedule. Perhaps this Friday will be that day for me. I’m certain!
My two week goal (Sept. 14-28) is to have anywhere between 8-20 pages of my thesis complete. I am calculating this by word count (300 words = 1 page).
As of today, I have written 3 pages total from Sept. 14-20 and I am learning to incorporate a daily writing habit and planning for my next two week goal which will be focused on completing other writing for college applications while focusing on the revision of the pages I have written between Sept. 14-28 and compiling them with the scenes I have previously written for this project (and revising these as well). I think in total I have 8 pages for this project (but won’t know until I look back at all the scenes and work I have), but I am not sure if they are cohesive pages yet.
When focusing on just word count and pages, I feel good. If I think too much about revision, compilation, how much of the story is written, and the role these first pages will play in applications I start to get a little anxiety.
I am trying to focus on writing and creating a daily writing habit and just cranking out work even if it is subpar.
I can’t create my best work if I don’t create any work.
For the next two weeks, my plan is to outline. I know I’m not going to get the entire novel outlined in these two weeks (it would be insane and cool if I did though, but not actually possible). But I will hopefully get an outline of an outline done in these two weeks.
Basically, I want to know what needs to be outlined versus what needs to be edited from what is already written. Today (or yesterday at this point), I came up with this very basic list of what needs to be done.
For those that can’t read my handwriting (including future me), it says:
The plan for the next 2 weeks:
Outline chapters 4-7
Figure out 5-7
Write test pages for P.O.V.s
What is ch. 8?
Outline ch. 1-8
Or really prologue through 7 (*4-7 have nothing yet)
A lot is happening in ch. 1 – what can be moved?
This list is in reference to what I originally had planned in Bibisco. Chances are, I will keep this how it is, but now would be the time to make any changes I feel are necessary.
Next, I have different P.O.V.s planned. A random bystander gets the prologue. For this one, the bystander could be Anixa or another character, it could also just be a third-party observation. I’m not exactly sure just yet, but I will be soon.
Anixa will be the main-main character, most of the chapters will be told from her point of view, starting with chapter 1. Then it switches to Traxel, then back to Anixa for chapters 3-5. Then Traxel gets chapter 6 and Anixa gets chapters 7 and 8.
Random thought, since Anixa gets so many chapters, at least at the start, I may tweak them a bit so that the later ones (5, 7, & 8) would be told from the POV of a group member. We’ll see, the main focus is just outlining right now. I can decide on points of view later after I figure out what happens in each chapter.
This should be fun. Let’s see where my imagination decides to take me this time!
I am pleased we continued our early thesis time together with a Spiral Journal protocol to help sharpen your perception about your early-stage development of your MA thesis work. I am so glad we took the time to focus a bit on the importance of the Library and the Kean University Learning Commons in terms of resources for developing your thesis. Spending a bit of time in workshops geared towards MA students, and learning about the vast resources at your fingertips, is most certainly an important step for your continual thesis work. I hope you will try a few workshops that might be supportive, and also get to know a librarian or two at Kean, while you work on your thesis overall.
Here are the agenda slides from last class:
After settling the presentation calendar together, we also discussed the concept of an Early Proposal. Hopefully this narrows the focus at the start of your formal journey with this big project. I know each of you has a specific plan now for the next two weeks as your “kick-off” your MA thesis progress.
The content if my M.A Thesis sprouted from project I began as an undergraduate for the course, Ethnic American Literature. The end of the semester project students to develop a project that defined what the American dream.
How often we hear the words “American Dream”, accept it as a general truth and never reflect on how we have internalized what it truly means to us. I soon discovered my American dream was roadmap embossed in soul searching and unlearning.
In the Ethnic American Literature course, this roadmap was connected to the iconic American children’s story The wizard of Oz. The iconic yellow brick road that led to the Emerald city was symbolic of my journey in finding my American-ness or The American Dream. As time progressed, that metaphoric yellow brick translated into a road I had to pave brick by brick and the only way to do that was to allow myself to speak my truth. To speak truths I had buried for so long. The process of unearthing those truths led me to ask why I had buried them to begin with.
My M.A Thesis is compromised of deeply person pieces of writings, never daring to call them legitimate poetry. Each piece representative of hurt, trauma and scattered healing process. It took me a long time to allow myself to write freely; I still struggle to write without guilt, but it was the writing that allowed me question where the guilt came from. I learned that so much guilt I carried stemmed from a longstanding tradition of holding many minorities accountable for their entire religion, race or culture. This soon led me to critically think about the effects colonialism had on my mindset; how I perceived the world and interacted with it.
In my mind, I still don’t see a paved yellow brick road, but allowing myself to be vulnerable and share my experiences with others tells me I have grown. Perhaps my path to self discovery is never ending. Every brick on this road is compromised of a sacrifice, mistakes, guilt and accomplishments; and I am learning to be Ok with that.