I’ve been feeling a little lost in my research these past few days.
Reading text after text after text has made me lose sight of what my research question is, and also worry that it has perhaps already been answered by an entire body of work — whose answer I don’t really understand. Reading more of Patricia Hampl and Sven Birkerts, I am constantly thrown by their flippant mentions of subjectivity that of course is used as a device and not worth mentioning. I have tried to follow writers’ leads with how to use subjectivity, only to find myself digressing to moments in childhood that don’t quite relate and make sense to anyone including myself. I’m failing to write in the form of lyric essay, and upon forcing myself to type without stopping I find myself inventing and well, lying about what happened because the whole story is too long to explain. I’m also anxious about presenting anything in my next Nonfiction class after the reaction my writing received last week, and this is hindering me from writing anything challenging. I’m pretty upset with myself at the moment about all of these things, but at the same time trying to sort through them as best I can. I’m meeting with Adrian (Program Director) this week which I’m a little nervous about because I’ve had trouble articulating my direction lately, and meeting with Francesca next week — hoping to be in a happier place by then.
Today I’m working on getting some words on paper for my Nonfiction lab assignment. This is what the lyric essay had been intended for, but I’ve kind of given up on that form for the moment because I was losing confidence in my writing ability pretty quickly and that’s definitely not worth risking right now. So today I’ve been working on a memoir piece tentatively titled ‘Origins’, where I’ve tried to combine the origins of this project, based on what I know: 1. the origins of an earthquake based on my very small knowledge on the subject, 2. the origins of my relationship with Alison, 3. the origins of my relationship with Japan. I’m struggling a little with the linking part, but on the whole I’m feeling a little more positive about writing and research in general. Here’s a somewhat satirical excerpt (sorry, I’m in that kind of mood):
I became aware of the existence of Eastern countries when I was five, during my teacher’s attempt at a Japanese language class. Kon-ni-chi-wa, we chanted after her until the syllables engrained in our minds, and I swear we were shown drawings of dark figures balancing buckets on their heads. Having never left our twenty-five thousand white faces, a jetty and too many football clubs, I can’t blame her. When I was eight Sensei moved to town and took our classes, where we ate chocolate Pocky sticks and coloured in pictures of Pokemon. Japanese class was the best.
My mother, who I later realised has a teeny-weeny obsession with other cultures, signed us up to be a host family when the first wave of Japanese exchange students arrived. Takashi stayed with us the year I was ten, a sixteen-year-old basketballer who liked Britney Spears and barbecues. My sister Matilda (six) welcomed him with a drawing of a yellow stick figure smiling, while Henry (eight) cut out a Pikachu from a box of Corn Flakes. I don’t remember what I gave him, but I recall being puzzled by the idea of not being the oldest child anymore.
The school trip to Japan was at fourteen, by which time Sensei had stopped bribing us with sweets and most students had dropped the classes for PE. At home, we were hosting our fifth student and Mum was making sushi every time friends came over. Of the trip, I remember fireworks, a tuna factory and my hostfather’s pinched face when my best friend bled all over their couch.