But anyway last Monday and Tuesday I'd been sat at my desk writing the first academic essay with footnotes and Harvard references I'd written in 25 years. And my how things have changed in that time - back in the day it was handwritten in biro (with occasional use of tippex) and left in a tutors pigeonhole, the sides slightly curled up such was the furious pressure of my handwriting. These days it's all written on computer, printed out, and signed for and time stamped - here's hoping my essay is okay. It seems much more official somehow.
A chum of mine read it when I'd finished it and said it made sense so that at least is something....it was on professional context, had to be 2,000 words long (word count is *so* much easier with computer software as opposed to doing an average of handwritten words per line and then working out how many pages it needed to be) and it took me two days to write. Well two days of sitting in front of the computer - the first day I kept thinking I'd never be able to get it finished as I just couldn't seem to get it to coalesce plus I spent most of the morning writing up the bibliography for my research journal aka this blog and doing some last minute bits of research before finally getting the opening paragraph and the bare bones of it on a page. It made me feel quite overwhelmed and stupid at times too - like 'argh I'll never be able to get this finished/done/ and then alternately when I found a good quote to support my argument 'oh this is okay/I can do this/it might not be brilliant but it won't be completely dreadful' and the next day I just ploughed my way through it, then I had it checked by a chum, checked a couple of things with my tutor about how to put quotes in it, had help from a lovely chap in IT who I later rewarded with some flapjack to convert this blog into a PDF as that also needed to be handed in and then I went back to the essay and polished it off on the Thursday and printed it off ready to be handed in on the Friday.
I still can't quite believe that as a postgraduate I gave myself lots of time to do this and wasn't at all like my undergraduate self who if the deadline was midday on a Friday would either stay up into the early hours of Friday morning to get it done or get up really early Friday morning to write it then....but I'm glad I did as it meant I had breathing space to sleep on it, refine certain points, come back to it with fresh eyes and just generally not be a coffee and adrenaline addicted stresshead about it. Here's hoping I can maintain this approach through the rest of the course.......
Oh and the stuff I've handed in is okay too - but I won't find that out until the end of January.....and in the meantime my personal tutor has said very complimentary things about my research work so far this term so fingers crossed I'll at least be in the right ball park so to speak......
I'm also glad that I got into a fairly good habit of writing up each week what I'd been up to as that made the research journal side of things easier to catch up with, I did do a couple of extra posts of pics of my desk and notebooks but otherwise this didn't take too much extra effort aside from the pdf and printing bit of it - the eco-part of me thinks that is a waste of paper but that's how I was asked to do it so I have - plus I wrapped it up with some recycled pink(!!) ribbon so it wasn't too wasteful.
So what have I learnt this term?
- I adore pootling about in libraries - but I already knew that....
- some powerpoint basics - essential really, especially as I have a couple of talks and teaching things lined up for 2015 already (this is both exciting and scarey)
- lots more re victorian death practices
- possibilities re my own work - liquid light for instance
- that I need to make time for 'doing' as well as researching and getting to college early for a pootle round St George's Fields or having my sandwich in there is a good way of doing this - it recharges my creative batteries so to speak
- if I get into a habit of harvard referencing it'll become ore second nature......hopefully......
- lots more re other artists who also use death a lot in their work - namely Joel Peter Witkins, Sally Mann
- more about local and national possibilities of showing my work
- that although I might feel like I'm dying with nervousness when public speaking - I am not dying and I have had good feedback about this aspect of my work
What do I want to do/learn next term
- get in the dark room more
- create more images
- do some embroidering
- work on projects - details will be revealed once they are a bit more formalised
- try out some cyanotypes - including making some of my own so I can have more control over the size of the paper
- make more time for exercise - walking to and from college (about 3 miles each way) is good but am missing the gym (never thought I would write words like that)
- not be afraid to try new things
- stay in habit of writing this blog - even if I don't have to do it for research journal handing in purposes anymore
- make more local collaborations and connections
- feel less like an imposter and not let Capt Paranoia (who to quote Rik 'is a bastard and votes Conservative) get the better of me and work on my self confidence
- enjoy it just as much as I have this term
So not sure if I'll write another one of these before the 25th of December or not so if I don't - Happy Xmas and all the best for 2015 and thank you for reading :-)
I'm going to give myself a well deserved rest though I might do a bit of reading too.....