Another reminder that I should be writing

When I checked my project’s Facebook page yesterday, I saw that one of the cafes had commented that it was its first birthday. This is a cafe I watched being renovated, spoken about and opened.

In anthropology circles a year of field work is pretty acceptable. I did take nearly four weeks off, and then there was another week more recently where I was busy with other things so did not do any field work. But whatever way I try to spin it my year is well and truly up. Even if I do not completely leave the field, I need to start doing some serious analysis and writing.

I am a bit anxious about how this will go. The past year has been exhausting at times, but it is easy to feel like I am getting somewhere. At least I feel like I have been busy, and that is enough.

When it comes to writing I cannot guarantee any sort of output of ideas. Just rocking up can be enough some days when doing field work. Even if it is a dull day, the fact I thought of it as uneventful is interesting in itself. Churning out words does not necessarily get me any closer to having a thesis if they are not the right sorts of words.

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2 Responses to “Another reminder that I should be writing”

  1. Bryonny G-H Says:

    [Commenting with stalker-ish swiftness, but actually just checked my RSS feeds over lunch because that’s how I roll on a Saturday.]

    I like how neatly the cafe frames your fieldwork.

    I think about leaving the field a lot, too. Not least because I’m planning to write up while in the field (which just feels like a can of worms). I don’t think I would have guessed even after I enrolled that one of the tricky things about fieldwork “at home” is the question of when to stop. A return ticket must make life so much easier.

    I also feel funny because while I am effectively out of the field for the next few months, I feel like I should be spending all the time on writing up. It’s really tempting to reflect on the paucity of 6 months’ fieldnotes and promise myself that all those ‘lacks’ that I keep seeing will be filled up after another spurt of fieldwork, but actually, who knows?

    I think you are very right about the satisfaction of just ‘rocking up’ and then how turning to writing seems harder because you can’t just do anything in the community and feel like it’s somehow an achievement. I definitely confess to having days when I assured myself that I had done some fieldwork because I’d gone down to the post office and bought the paper 🙂

    But I disagree with you on the ‘right sort of words’. I’m a big big Peter Elbow fan, and I really do think that part of writing is writing all sorts of crap. That’s where I play round with most of my ideas, and for every one that’s good there are probably two that are rubbish. If I hadn’t written the rubbish ones, I don’t think I would have written the good ones either. And then editing is a whole other process that comes later.

  2. Tracey Says:

    I am sure many of the ‘lacks’ will be filled up. In some cases I think if you have identified what gaps you need to fill in then that’s much of the job done.

    I like your approach to writing, but I think letting the words come and then editing them into something worth reflecting on uses some sort of internal brain discipline that I am not so sure I have. I can pull myself out of bed in the morning to go somewhere, but can I force myself to work out an idea, write it down, edit it and fix up the formatting? On the other hand, when I put my worries into words I can see that they form a pretty poor excuse not to get started.

    Writing up over there would have its difficulties. I am sure it is much more fun to go to the local pub for a drink than trying to capture something about the pub in writing. However, I am sure you’re a strong enough researcher that sharing a physical location with the subjects of your enquiries will not narrow your analytical perspective. I am also sure a return ticket helps eliminate some fuzzy lines, but I am also sure that ‘easier’ rarely results in better research.

    I am not sure how I would go writing up somewhere other than ‘here’. Politely written emails requesting a signature are often no substitute for cornering a supervisor with your page open and pen ready. I think I will need liberal does of ‘she has a chapter written’ envy to keep me on any sort of time line, and the promise of the occasional mid afternoon whine and coffee to convince me to turn the computer on in the morning. That said, you seem to be highly self motivated and self sufficient in your work. Also, you’ll be living somewhere very cool with people you care about, so that has to be good for the brain and soul.

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