Sometimes things seem more confusing than they are

This week I had a casual meeting with Chris Meade, a creative writer who is exploring the future of the book through people’s ‘nearly’ stories; all those things that nearly happen to us. Although his PhD doesn’t directly link to my own research, his work does touch on the subject of personal narratives and is partly informed by affective stories people share with him, which is why I thought it could be useful to hear more about his process. He is using storytelling to convey a set of abstract ideas through different interventions, and what he is doing fits perfectly into the Applied Imagination philosophy and methods. He found my thoughts on how objects are linked to our narrative identities and emotions interesting and thought my ideas on exploring individual storytelling through dress has PhD potential. 

I also had a Skype call with my tutor and she thought I am still using too broad terms to describe my project. I believe there are a few different reasons for this, the main reason being that I am not communicating my ideas confidently enough. Part of the reason for this is that I have not assembled my literary research notes and thoughts in a cohesive and organised way. My research is fragmented, drawing on ideas from very different – perhaps a little unexpected – subject areas, which means that I have struggled to summarise them at this stage. There have been moments when my ideas do not even make sense to me. It should be noted though that this is not because of random assumptions, loose ideas, or a lack of rigorous research. However, it does mean that pulling these fragments together (in a short amount of time) is challenging and does require intense processing. In addition to this, I also need to assemble all the concrete ideas that have surfaced from my research in one document.

Another issue I am currently dealing with is not having done enough work on collecting information through an intervention. (And to whomever is thinking ‘well, just go out there and do it’, I am going to say: Perhaps, but it really is easier said than done, and I have decided not to do interventions just for the sake of doing interventions.) I have consciously been focusing more on refining my core idea than developing the intervention because I noticed that I was only going around in circles when I tried to focus on the intervention. I am now, however, working on turning my ‘intervention scores’ into an event where people are invited to share their emotional connections to items of clothing or accessories. Chris Meade thought this was a good idea, especially when I mentioned including the opportunity to have your photograph taken during the event. I have been in correspondence with The Poetry Café about using their space as a venue, but it has been slow and I am still waiting to schedule a meeting with them. It is possible that the time of the year and the heatwave has something to do with the absence of prompt responses.

Since a lot of my research relates to the way we experience and relate to our own existence and emotions, it is crucial I talk to people with expertise in how our minds work. I have been in correspondence with the psychologist I met at Bethlem last month and will be meeting her on the 15th to discuss my ideas. She was intrigued by my series of ‘intervention scores’ and the concept of self-reflective storytelling. My tutor also said she would introduce me to someone who works in mental health. Receiving feedback from people with experience in psychology should help me refine my ideas and identify potential target groups and collaborators.

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