All posts by medeathewriter

Funnel and Sifting Flour

This week left me at an impasse, research-wise. So I went back to basics and realized that I further needed to refine my categories for research (hence the funnel approach). When I saw Mary Kate lay things out in a chart, it was a forever lightbulb situation for me. I refined the ideas that I want to investigate in my work yet again. And I likely will have to do it again. This is good, this is healthy, this is NECESSARY work. It is important to distill themes from ideas. That’s how good research happens. If you have a nebulous idea of what you want to research, your research won’t be laser sharp. Who needs blunt research? Not me. It is a work in progress though, that is for certain. It’s much like sifting flour for a cake. If you don’t sift, you are going to have lumps or worse yet a cake that falls. I’m not a baker, but I do know that! I also know you can buy cake flour, but go with me on this analogy! I found several sources that I really do like and I was able to digest them and put them into my literature review. I’m a little taken aback by how labor intensive this is. I’m not scared of hard work by any means, but finding viable sources is WORK.

I realized that I don’t need to sacrifice continuing my writing in pursuing my lit review. This isn’t an either or process. It is organic and it should be. It took Dr. Zamora to help me with realizing this. This week I plan on continuing doing my free-writes before I continue to write my memoir. I feel like I have one big chapter left in the memoir (perhaps two?), along with a thoughtful introduction and conclusion. I really want to do an excellent job and make sure that my product is provoking and great.

I wish all of you a healthy and productive week. Take care of yourselves!

Funnel and Sifting Flour

This week left me at an impasse, research-wise. So I went back to basics and realized that I further needed to refine my categories for research (hence the funnel approach). When I saw Mary Kate lay things out in a chart, it was a forever lightbulb situation for me. I refined the ideas that I want to investigate in my work yet again. And I likely will have to do it again. This is good, this is healthy, this is NECESSARY work. It is important to distill themes from ideas. That’s how good research happens. If you have a nebulous idea of what you want to research, your research won’t be laser sharp. Who needs blunt research? Not me. It is a work in progress though, that is for certain. It’s much like sifting flour for a cake. If you don’t sift, you are going to have lumps or worse yet a cake that falls. I’m not a baker, but I do know that! I also know you can buy cake flour, but go with me on this analogy! I found several sources that I really do like and I was able to digest them and put them into my literature review. I’m a little taken aback by how labor intensive this is. I’m not scared of hard work by any means, but finding viable sources is WORK.

I realized that I don’t need to sacrifice continuing my writing in pursuing my lit review. This isn’t an either or process. It is organic and it should be. It took Dr. Zamora to help me with realizing this. This week I plan on continuing doing my free-writes before I continue to write my memoir. I feel like I have one big chapter left in the memoir (perhaps two?), along with a thoughtful introduction and conclusion. I really want to do an excellent job and make sure that my product is provoking and great.

I wish all of you a healthy and productive week. Take care of yourselves!

Level Head

I hope that everyone is doing well. I really enjoyed Mary Kate’s presentation last Thursday. It was informative and learning about her process was important. I can’t wait to read her finished product. I too would love to attend a reading when she publishes the work (it is that good). Class on Thursday also clarified my perception of what a literature review should consist of. Dr. Zamora went over everything in great detail and the questions that we asked yielded answers that were very illuminating. I can’t wait for this week’s class (I always feel that way).

While on my own, this week produced a mixed bag. I finished the memoir that Nives suggested, Triggered, and annotated it. It was excellent and it resonated with my life experiences as a small child! I also read most of a memoir entitled Depression is Hilarious. It really struck a chord. I have a short introductory piece in my memoir entitled “Comedic Interlude.” With perspective, I have learned that depression is a jester and it leads you to nonsensical, but comedic places. As Carol Burnett said, tragedy plus time equals comedy!

Next, I went through all of my chapters with an obnoxious pink pen and identified themes that arose in my memoir. I noticed that Mary Kate had a categorical breakdown and that was very helpful to me. I will create a chart re: all of the issues in a Google doc. That is my goal for today (Tuesday).

I also got on to the library’s website to search issues. It was difficult to find articles that met with my experiences. I was frustrated with myself. But, then again, I know this process is supposed to be difficult (They don’t award M.A.s for child’s play!). I just wish I could extend more grace to myself. All I can say is that I am a work in progress!

Sometimes a journal article looks great in accordance with its title, but turns out to be a dud. For example, I was researching issues re: being switched from being left-handed to right-handed when I was a toddler. My mother gently encouraged me, but she was consistent about it because she felt that left-handed writing was messy (I know, yes this was bad). I still haven’t found articles that I like! I then decided it was time to cut bait on the issue and bookmark it for another time.

You have to have tenacity and a level head when approaching a thesis! I’ve been researching issues re: mother-daughter relationships in the context of an immigrant experience as well as birth order. It has been difficult to pin down articles re: the first issue, but the second one was better. Dr. Zamora once mentioned that birth order is very important and I agree. My sister, five years my senior, plays a big role in my memoir. She shepherded me through school and tough life experiences. I believed that I mentioned this during Writer’s Retreat: she was definitely a second mother to me to whom I was more apt to listen.

I wish you all a great, productive week. Happy to see everyone on Thursday!

Thesis Progression

This week I encountered an article in which an Italian-American M.A. student wrote about her experience between being stuck in two places at once— her Italian culture and pursuits of independent, modern goals outside of those of homemaker, wife and mother. I confirmed that my memoir and accompanying research will address a gap.

In my experience, I was encourage to occupy two roles (albeit not at the same time). My mother wanted me receive higher education, to occupy male-dominated realms and make sure that my voice got equal play and pay. The author described that Italians have a matriarchal thread that is concealed . That was true for me, but while growing up, my mother made it amply clear inside and outside the family realm that it was she who called the shots.

After a sufficient amount of legal practice has been garnered it was time to settle down and create a family. It takes a lot of energy and hard work and to insert yourself in a still largely male-dominated office culture. Where is there practical time to forge meaningful, marriage-bound connections right after law school? Plus, at least in my experience, male attorneys don’t want to date their opinionated, female counterparts. They seek out other less controversial unions where their actions won’t be subject to what is perceived to interrogation, but what is really not! I am actually pretty traditional. This ‘“go to law school, graduate and find a husband” trope isn’t fair and I haven’t followed it prescriptively, which is fine by me. I’d rather my relationships evolve more organically.

Finally, the author focused on the fact that Italian young women are expected to seek out a spouse above all other goals. That was not the initial value in my house. I was encouraged to seek out higher education that would make me independent of a man, which contradicts the post-grad question I often encountered- “So when are you going to find a nice boy and settle down”?

Another angle that I seek to explore (and as illuminated to be by Nives) was reading a memoir about OCD and the experience of apocalyptic conceptions as well as religious, ritual obsessions. This memoir entitled Triggered . These are things I experienced in my early youth but were never clinically diagnosed. This is a very valuable resource.

I also found articles dealing with Italians and superstition, but I would like to find more recent publications. This is important to a chapter in my memoir. I write about malocchio, or the “evil eye.” I never believed in it (ever), but it was something I had to contend with it growing up. Ritual and superstition are things I saw in my culture and I need to take a deeper look into this.

I also need to find more articles about Italian-American women’s experience of being caught between their worlds and their desire to celebrate them and the desire to experience true, meaningful independence. Traditional Italian daughters are often plagued by seeking their parents’ approval. I will take a deeper dive into these subjects.

I’m a little trepidatious. I haven’t been seeing articles and resources that have hit this mark, but I need to broaden my search. Perhaps other first-gen daughters face this dilemma. I want to make sure I get this literature review right and am very much looking forward to class for guidance.

Symphonic Aspirations

Symphony!

A thesis should come together like a symphony. In my case, I am writing a memoir and all those pieces should be connected. I have been writing the chapters separately. I have a lot of content, but it is important that each chapter flows into one another and that there is no redundancy in the introduction of characters. That is the task that I have been working on this week.

I very much enjoyed class (as I always do). Meeting in the breakout groups was absolutely inspiring. Marykate mentioned mapping out chapters and this is brilliant. I try to do this in my free-writing, but I can make better use of it. I was also very interested in everyone’s project and process. Meagan has a fantastic color-coded scheme. I definitely think that I will implement that in my literature review. I often print many articles and it is difficult to keep track of them, but with color-coded folders, things should be easier. I learn so much from our group and am so very thankful for this. On an important note, the talent in the room is amazing and inspiring. Although we are involved in different projects, the journey towards greater awareness and knowledge is present in each person’s project. Breakout groups are just great!

As far as my own process goes, I will map it below:

 Sept. 12-Sept 17 Transitions & Revisions for all chapters already written
 Sept 18- Sept. 29Writing 2nd Law School Chapter
September 30-October 10Ending Chapter, Introduction and Literature Review
 October 11-End of OctoberRevisions to all material
November – ThanksgivingLiterature Review finished
 December 1- End of Semester Final Round of Revisions to Memoir & Literature Review
 
 
Schedule

Please note that there may be changes made in the above schedule. It is my goal to have everything, including literature review done shortly after Thanksgiving, so that I can devote all of my time to finishing touches. In reality, I am sure that I will turn to literature review while writing too. My goal is to create a harmonized symphony!

Welcome to my Innerscape

Hi everyone! I am excited for this course and my own project. My thesis came about through a Creative Nonfiction class I took in Spring 2020. I will be completing a memoir (not yet titled) about the role that anxiety has played in my life. I have first drafts of several chapters.

This week was difficult for me. I am writing a chapter entitled “Dream City: Awash in the Semi-Conscious.” Dreams are a way that anxiety inevitably expresses itself in my life. I can have a great day, but if I have one negative passing thought, the net of my subconscious will catch it. The dreams are strange and often cause headaches (solved by taking a demitasse of espresso, I know, weird…but it works and I can go back to sleep). I used “the semi-conscious” in the title, because I often hear my own voice telling me, “Hey Medea, this is just a dream! Wake up!”

I was stressed out about this chapter because comparatively it is short. It is about 7 pages at present. I have gone back to revise it, but I don’t want to add things simply as filler. I have come to accept that brevity has its place. Peter Elbow encourages us to edit ruthlessly. This leads me to understand it isn’t about length, but rather about effective communication and good story-telling! I should not stress. Rather, as brilliant author and commentator Anne Lamott says, I should just keep going!

That is what I am going to do, just write. My next chapter will be about law school. I will have two chapters dedicated to this (one of these I already completed in Memoir class). I revised that one in August. My challenge will be write continuously without looking for perfect turns of phrases.

My thesis has been greatly aided by free writing in my journal. I was one of the people who thought it was anathema to scribble in a pretty journal. That’s nonsense! Freewriting in my journal has boosted my confidence. It was something I started doing regularly this summer. Peter Elbow, it took me awhile, but I get it! Writing without self-censorship has been pivotal to writing chapters in my memoir. It really primes my mental muscles to write seriously.

Cheers! I look forward to learning with all of you!