March

Hello, so it’s been a long time…

I’ve been struggling to start and then trying to keep momentum up with writing my PhD…started writing my first analysis chapter in February which is due in on the 13th march…eek! So I’ve not made much room for anything else writing wise.

I’m telling, you, starting writing is the HARDEST thing but once you’ve started the flow is for me anyway, generally easy to maintain unless I hit a block. I’ve taken a couple of days away to visit family and give a lecture so I have shifted away slightly in my brain towards how important people in my life are doing, talking about belief systems, the future, the present, the toxicity of individualism…so my brain kinda hurts and now I’m back at the desk trying to jump back in the pleasantly flowing river of writing.

Generally I just start and see what happens and something normally does, so I might try that approach today. I get a little itchy and frustrated and petulantly childish about it, and being in youngest daughter/sister mode over the last week perhaps hasn’t helped with this mindset…! But, as the genius that is Stenibeck wrote:

 

“In writing, habit seems to be a much stronger force than either willpower or inspiration. Consequently there must be some little quality of fierceness until the habit pattern of a certain number of words is established. There is no possibility, in me at least, of saying, “I’ll do it if I feel like it.” One never feels like awaking day after day. In fact, given the smallest excuse, one will not work at all. The rest is nonsense. Perhaps there are people who can work that way, but I cannot. I must get my words down every day whether they are any good or not.” 

From the brilliant blog that is Brainpickings.

The daunting task of ‘writing a PhD’ is something I almost need to just forget about when I sit down to write. I need to speak about it in smaller ways, shrink it down: “today I’m writing about food” or “today I’m going to pick out all the best quotes which relate to thing as symbol”. Day by day is the only way I can make this last year manageable.

Anyway. So this first chapter is looking at process / object; the ways that material culture is enlivened and imbued with symbolic meaning through using objects in everyday and special occasion ritual. I’m starting off by looking at food and the ways in which food, its sourcing, preparation and consumption by the women I have worked with facilitate their performativity of heritage and identity, enable them to negotiate between homes and identities and heritages – for women of all statuses but particularly for women in the asylum system whose ‘home’ is finally in the hands of the Home Office (such a curious name for an organisation that deals with immigration, don’t you think? Almost very explicitly acknowledging that what they’re dealing with is people’s rights to call this place ‘home’ at all…) – and is used to enter into the social contract of sharing and gift-giving in order to cultivate relationships and networks, all of which are important for the home-making process. More on this later.

Right. Existential anxiety kicking in so off to write some words.

 

 

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