Think – say- writ[ting angst]

So keeping a writing journal of what I have (/ have not) done, and what I think of it, has not really happened. It still might; I always expect to be less stuck tomorrow, next week, after this next deadline.

I am supposed to be putting the following touches on a paper I have nick-named ‘cars’. There is something reassuring about giving papers nick-names, it suggests I know what is at the centre of the idea. In reality, the paper has not yet been brought into existence. I have written something. On my computer you can find ethnographic description where the tenses are all over the place, brief discourse analysis of written reports that do not quite make the point I think is there to be made, and thousands of jottings of my thoughts which trail off in a series of dot points I plan to expand on ‘later’.

This paper that has yet to be created also has a nick-name because I have spoken about it so much. It has been really useful to convert ideas into speech, doing so requires the paper-as-idea ‘saying’ something. In my mind I can just use a cluster of images and ideas instead of a few clear words, but an interlocutor is unlikely to suddenly understand me just because I wave my hands around more.

However, even though it is going to initially be a spoken paper, I have to write ‘cars’ and that means developing the ideas in a slightly different way again. Writing seems to require that choices are made as to whether I am saying ‘effacement’ or ‘displacement’, and whatever word chosen cannot just be said in such a way (or with a suitable hand movement) to indicate it is standing in for something else. Writing in some ways can let you communicate more, but it calls for a greater degree of certainty.

It is strange to think of myself as needing to become a writer. I know there has been plenty written on this in anthropology, but I am not about to launch into that here. I have focused on how privileged I am to get to go out and see a little bit more of the social world, and how lovely it is to get to think about and talk about ideas. Yet most of my time is going to be spent trying to get towards turning my learnings and ideas into written text, which means drafts, expression, punctuation and proof reading.

I suppose this leads me back to the reflecting I have been doing with another student on talking and writing as both relational, but different, acts of communication.

Maybe I will try to embrace the writing journal but, for now, this post is dedicated to writing angst. Cheers!



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