Wednesday, 9 January 2013

I made it through the wilderness.....!

Well I think I have finally done it. Hopefully I think I have found the light at the end of the tunnel. Or if not the light, the cats eyes on the path that leads to the light at the end of the tunnel!

The last few weeks and months have been very tough. I have had a lot of personal and family stuff going on that I have been juggling as well as the ongoing dissertation. For the last few weeks in particular I have been finding the writing of my dissertation very difficult. The main reason was because I had hit a wall, and got completely lost with what I was writing.

I can only describe it as similar to being trapped in quick sand and the more you struggle, fight and try to get out the quicker you sink and the worse your situation gets. The more I tried to write the more I got lost and overwhelmed with theory and writers block. I got more and more confused. Then the self-doubt started to arrive, and the "I can't do this" and the "I am so going to fail" and finally came avoidance. It was awful and I felt as miserable as hell. I wanted to enjoy doing my study, and this was not enjoyable! Then I decided to do something about it and fight back. However this was easier said than done. I couldn't figure out what to do to put it right, to get back on track. I found myself in a sort of dissertation wilderness.

I spent days going through my notes, re-reading chapters and even a bit of brainstorming. Nothing was making any sense or showed any sign of being a way forward. Then I asked for some support and help from my lovely friend Liz. She was on my MA course and had had to have an extension for her dissertation too due to health and personal problems so she could totally relate. She is also an absolute genius with cultural memory theory so I thought and hoped she would be able to help straighten out my confused brain! As I had been there for her while she was doing hers, she didn't hesitate to help me and was really supportive. We had a great chat and she gave me a few suggestions and helped me unravel some of my thoughts about what I was writing and where it could be taken. She even talked through a few examples of structure and content. I felt so much more positive after talking to her. I am very grateful to her.

However, despite this positive chat I still didn't have a way forward. I had a much stronger idea on what to do when I got there, but it was still a bit of a grey area on how to get there! While I continued to wander this metaphorical wilderness, I remembered we had been advised to keep a dissertation diary to record every stage of the process, thoughts, decisions, tutorials etc. I decided to have a read through mine as I had kept it going and regularly wrote in, but hardly ever looked back on previous entries. This was a crucial turning point. As I had filled it in regularly, made notes immediately after tutorials, comments on chapters I had read etc, it was actually incredibly useful. I was reminded of a lot of decisions I had made and why, as well as reminding myself on where I wanted to take my dissertation. I even had a chapter plan! Very soon I realised what I had to do.

Sometimes when your so involved and entrenched in something you can't see where you are going, and that's what happened to me. I realised through reading the diary that in order to move forward I had to take a step back. I had to go back to basics and remind myself of all the foundation stuff that I do know but couldn't recall. Very quickly I had a plan of action. Despite being up against it time wise I knew I needed to take a few days to retrace my steps. So I am returning to the key texts. I am setting out the two different theories that I am looking at, going back over collective memory, sites of memory, agents of memory etc etc. Then when I have reminded myself of these foundations I can then build the complex stuff on top. This will stop me from being confused and from losing my way. In fact its such an obvious solution I don't know why I didn't see it before! I now have a plan of action, a way forward and more importantly a good idea on how I am going to do it. Hopefully I will be able to bring you a more positive progress update soon.

For now I have made it through the wilderness, somehow I made it through.........!

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