This week in Reflection

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Worth the look today:)

There is something to be said for being able to climb a tree and take in the view, just like the magnificent creature on the branch above.

I have found this week a little harder than usual because I have listened to politicians being interviewed and found myself shouting aloud “why can’t you ask them about” whatever it was that I felt they weren’t covering properly. But however frustrated I am with journalists and their questions, I really do appreciate the work they do. So, it was with more than some misgivings that I find yet more jobs at Fairfax are going to be lost. And, I wanted to shout from the roof tops about the pain I feel when I hear that school funding and funding for our universities is going to be reduced. I have to state here, that I would rather my taxes go on education that 12 submarines!!! Anyway, that’s my rant for the day, except to say that it is really important that we be not afraid to question ‘why’ or ‘why not’

I am working on my exegesis and just in the process of making an appt with my supervisor to talk through the theory. While I wait to hear from her which usually takes like…5 minutes…I am also taking the opportunity to start the research for my next project.

“WHAT!!” I hear you say.”Your next project?”

“Yes, my next project.”

I think it’s really important for me to have a plan for after. I am hoping to finish by early next year and I know from experience that I need to have something to move onto. So, my next project is it!!!

It will be another novel, set in Ireland, 1900 to 1948. Why 1900? Well, in a way that’s down to Diarmaid Ferriter and his comments on page 1 (Introduction, The Transformation of Ireland 1900-2000) about many Irish histories starting with 1912. So, I’m a little conscious about my timing. However, that said I mark my novel’s timeframe by its needs only.

So, the novel will be another work of historical fiction that pre-dates my current text which covers 1948 to 1954. The research is fascinating, but before I get too caught up I need to have a ‘novel plan’. I need to know whose story I want to tell and why, and who the support cast will be. So, now, that I have calmed down a little I will begin to write my plan in pencil, on a clean page, in a new notebook bought especially for the occasion. Mind you, I have to say, that I have two new notebooks waiting for those marvellously enlightening entries. One is for poetry which I am slowly returning to, and the other is for the new novel.

So, that’s my week. How is yours shaping up:)

It’s not all about history

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Hello,

It has been awhile since my last post but I have been working hard on my novel and exegesis, as well as a conference presentation and paper which I hope will be good enough for publication after the conference as well.

One of the problems I am grappling with as I write my novel is setting high enough stakes for the characters. The ‘universal’ stakes such as good versus evil are choices that the characters can make, yet the personal stakes are somehow lacking the right tenor of drama and tension.

Now this is an interesting conundrum for me in writing a historical novel. Why so? Because, the mantra I follow while working on my project is one of staying true to my sources because I am writing ‘historical’ fiction. This means that I wanted my characters to be in situations that are  believable for the times, and so I focused on trying to develop a world set in Ireland in the late 1940s and early 1950s. Delia Falconer, writing about historical fiction in The Writer’s Reader (2007) says that:

“It is easy to forget that historical novels are not history, that they have their own logic and different work to do; that, as Milan Kundera puts it, the ‘sole raison d’etre of a novel is to discover what only the novel can discover’” (Falconer, 2007:108).

But, while how I use my sources is a very important focus for me, writing historical fiction isn’t just about how you use your sources. Creative writing of almost any genre involves some ground-rules, such as story arc and tension points, I have to remember that I am writing a story. I work hard to have interesting but believable characters, to have believable interactions for them, and to use interesting prose. But, I have to learn to let go of the research and let the characters tell their story and make their journey. As Marele Day, also writing in The Writer’s Reader (2007) says:

 “…the writer must show, through action, dialogue and interior monologue, that it is of vital importance to the character, strong enough to drive the narrative, despite difficulties and oppositions, including the character’s own doubts and fears.” (Day, 2007: 55)

However, I realise now that I am a little nervous about letting my characters, whom I have known since inception, take risks, fall in love, and heaven forbid, even do something bad. I have a nasty antagonist, and one of my main protagonists is definitely not squeaky clean, but neither is he facing a career or life-threatening dilemmas. Well, he might not have until now. This has been a learning journey and I know that it is worthwhile as I am learning from my mistakes and I have time to correct them. Delia Falconer writes that:

 “All novel writing is, in the end, consciously or subconsciously, the product of philosophical inquiry about the nature of writing itself. A good novelist is always asking: What is a novel? What is the point of writing one? The historical novelist is also always writing to answer the question of why we should both to write novels in the present about the past.” (Falconer, 2007:108).

Resolution of the issue of goals and stakes for the characters is being achieved I think through the redrafting of the novel and slowly, but surely, the characters are able to tell their story.

Hope life is treating you well:)

kind regards

Olga

The Methodology Chapter

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I am seriously into writing the Methodology Chapter and have reached the section which discusses:

“…the creativity, research and reflexivity processes and issues associated with gathering and analysing the data as I write the historical novel and the exegesis.” (Walker, 2016:65).

Italian philosopher and feminist thinker, Adriana Cavarero (2000) in Relating Narratives Storytelling and Selfhood, explores innovative ways of thinking about fictional autobiographies and how human identities form. She draws from both the philosophical and the literary tradition, for example, Sophocles, Homer, Hannah Arendt, Karen Blixen, Walter Benjamin, and Luis Borges, in her discussions about relationship between ‘selfhood and narration’. The most interesting aspect of the book in relation to this project is Cavarero’s telling of the African myth of the stork to explain her theory about the self and narration. A man leaves the impression of his life as he races around trying to fill the gaps in a pond near his house. He is not aware that he is making tracks while he works. When he looks out of the window the next morning he sees that his tracks are in the shape of a stork. It is only afterwards that he sees the design of his life (Cavarero 2000:1). The crux of this myth is that the outline of the stork cannot be deliberately made; the stork is the narrator, not the author.

“Life cannot be lived like a story, because the story always comes afterwards, it results; it is unforeseeable and uncontrollable, just like life. If the man of the fable had voluntarily run through the night in order to trace the designs of a stork, he would not have fulfilled the story. A different story would have resulted from his actions: the strange tale of a man who spends the night tracing a stork with his footsteps.” (Cavarero 2000:3)

I love stories and the  myth of the stork has been a wonderfully visual way to help me to understand ‘my reflexivity’ in the course of the research and writing of the novel and this exegesis.

Would love to hear your story.

kind regards

Olga

Drafting the Exegesis

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I have started drafting the Exegesis…and I was happy that I had mapped out a ‘table of contents’ kind of framework before the work began. But, in the past week or so that I have been writing, I have found that I needed to make a few changes to the chapter headings.

It’s all about relevance of course, and sometimes that little nine letter word can take you on quite a journey. But, making changes to the table of contents was “no big deal” I thought to myself. Ahha…I should have known better…it really has been a big deal and that’s turning out to be a very good for me. You see, I have been sort of working on an exegesis draft for a while, putting all the information into what I thought would be relevant chapters. The literature review, the methodology chapter, the introduction and of course, the conclusion, and a couple in between.

So, now that I am corralling my research (treasure-hunting) to date together I have found a couple of gems that I didn’t realise that I had. Moreover, I have now found myself in the position of having not one really important issue to discuss in my paper, but two. Interestingly though, in the process of all of the early drafting I had formed a particular view. I was aware that this was happening and I kept repeating to myself “make sure you are objective”. But life was about to get more interesting.

One of the little ‘gems’ was found by doing a close reading of a book chapter that I had already read some time ago, and realising that there was a throw-away sentence that really gelled with my project. It gave me another way to think about my research findings. This little throw-away sentence has ‘thrown up’ a really important question in relation to particular issues that cluster around female Irish migration that I am looking at, and the book chapter and author will be gratefully and properly referenced. What this has also done is shown me that I have at least one more reason that I can use in demonstrating the relevance of my research project. I am so grateful and life has become so much more exciting.

The process of reading, reading and reading, and then writing, writing and writing is one that works for me and I am someone who learns by ‘writing’. Not always easy, particularly on days when you look out of the study window and want to mow the lawns  (Is that procrastination by another name? No…of course not..silly me, its called gardening:)).  So, now as I sit down at my desk and open up the literature review section, or the methodology section, I start the work with a smile on my face. But, that doesn’t mean that I don’t have times when I think about how much I would like to jazz up this exegesis process, but I also know from experience, that I work best with a framework to back myself with, as well as, crash against now and then.

I would love to know if you have any treasure-hunting stories:)

have a great week!!

Olga

 

 

 

 

The discourse of Blam-olitics and the magic in the Exegesis

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The discourse of BLAM-OLITICS

I recently started a post saying that I wouldn’t normally discuss politics and then I went on the express my dismay at what was being said about the ‘Brexit’ vote. Since then, we have had our own election in Australia and there is quite some dismay about the ‘non-result’ result.

During this time I have been working hard on the Exegesis and it is starting to shape up nicely (at this stage), no doubt that will change but that’s okay, it’s an expected part of the journey. As this site is meant to capture the reflexive aspects of my project I have spent some time pondering why I shouldn’t discuss politics, or at least the political events that are impacting on my life at this time. It is through how I engage with these events that eventually impact on the choices I make for the novel and the scholarly paper. The current political environment is relevant to my study as I am looking at female Irish migration, the Irish civil service and the Irish political scene 1948-1954.

As I was listening to a couple of senior Liberals being interviewed on the radio this morning they were warning about the party ‘imploding’ before the results of the election were known, the first instances of the discourse of ‘blam-olitics’ I’m hearing today. Why would they come out publicly with those kind of statements…well it could be that the party is already ‘imploding’ and it is not hard to speculate about what is going on behind the scenes. During my period of research Ireland (Republic) underwent two elections and there was some vitriol being expressed both before and after…so it is relevant for me to take note of the emotions being expressed here in Australia, at this time.

Not long after the two senior Liberals were interviewed, the local and newly elected Labour candidate was interviewed and he was so gracious that his comments are welded into my brain. He thanked everyone who had supported him and said he would work for everyone in the region, including those who didn’t vote for him..so his ‘message’ was very inclusive. This has also been the tenor of Bill Shorten’s approach…inclusive and collegiate…so this is another instance of ‘blam-olitics’ because of the very strong contrast against the Liberal party discourse I have seen and heard in the last two days. Because the local Labour candidate had been interviewed, the radio station did the right thing and a local Liberal candidate in the next electorate was interviewed. And that’s when it started…the almost absolute discourse of ‘blam-olitics’ where…everyone and everything else was to blame, except the candidate and the party. My thoughts at the time were…”you still don’t get it…the people have voted and want their voices heard…and you are not listening.” Not a new phenomenon I would think!

So, the relevance of all of this is of course that I have mentioned the discourse of ‘blam-olitics in my novel already and also in the Exegesis…and now I can compare what is happening today with what I read in the newspapers accounts of the period of interest in my project, and think about what was going on behind the scenes way back then. It actually doesn’t matter whether or not what is happening in Australia today bears any semblance of what was happening in Irish politics in the South 1948-1954, but awareness of the variety of guises that the discourse of ‘ blam-olitics’ can take is very relevant for me.

 

MAGIC IN THE EXEGESIS

Moving away from politics now I am in the middle of writing a short story. I found out about a writing competition recently and have been swirling an idea for a short story around the wine-glass of my brain since I read about it. Finally, as I had a lazy day yesterday because of staying up very late the night before to find out about the election results,  I thought..’.hey you need to do some proper work here and make a start on that story.’

So I did and I managed to write a paragraph. But for some reason I had  lost touch with the emotion connected with the story I want to write….and was left wondering why was it important to me and so what?

I left the computer, took Dougal doggie for a walk and came back and sat down at the keyboard again. Then it came to me…I really need to think about how to structure the story…and I went through a process of setting out paragraph headings.

Phew…once that was done, the words flew across the page and my fingers couldn’t keep up with them. Now I have much of the  story written…what’s so important about that you might well ask? Well for me, it will be the first time I have used the methodologies I have learned for writing up the exegesis and transferred them to my creative writing. The big surprise for me was that it worked…I was able to stipulate exactly what emotions I was drawing as they are a very important part of the story…a character really. I think that taking a more organised approach to my creative writing is what gave my mind the freedom to let go and just ‘write.’

I hope you have a good week.

kind regards

Olga

The Literature Review

 

 

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Something to sing about – New Holland Honeyeaters

 

I read a fantastic post this week on the ‘Patter’ Blog by Pat Thomson called

the writer’s tic – it’s all about the invisible gorilla

I had spent hours and hours trying to get started on my Literature review…I have a lot of information, so no problems there, but that first sentence…o.m.g…well after the whole morning in the study, I decided on an early lunch, then came back to the computer but I only lasted ten minutes. Nothing was firing in the brain. So, then I went outside and moved some wood closer to the house; it’s actually starting to get cold here. I came back to the computer and knew and straightaway where I needed to go to get some technical type help…in just 4 hours I sorted out how to structure my Literature Review…and the vimeo mashup on Patter captured everything for me:):)

Hope you check it out and enjoy it too:):)

Olga