I bet all of you were thinking “is she ever actually going to write anything?”. Well today I actually did write something and weirdly enough it came in the middle of an unproductive day. I’d had a terrible night’s sleep and so didn’t actually make it into the office until around 10am. At 11am I was convinced to ditch my attempts to get stuck into work for a coffee with a friend and colleague. Which brought me to noon and lunchtime, still without a word written….
Okay so day 3 and I still haven’t done any actual writing – although it is only 2pm so I still have time. What I did do today was nut out exactly what projects I will be working on for the next 3 weeks and plan my time around these. I’m a bit of a fan of timetabling to be honest…
Okay so not a lot of writing has been done today. Call me the queen of procrastination… No seriously I expect to hear Your Majesty at least once today! In all seriousness though, While I might have been procrastinating, this is something that your average ADHDer really struggles with. Everyone neurotypical does too, but ADHD seems to just add to the marble collection. I have somewhat perfected the art of the productive procrastination. This means that when I procrastinate I try and do something I have been putting off and really need to do anyway. Today that has been transcribing the recordings of my recent fieldtrip to the Waikato.
I’ve always been slack at writing. It isn’t that I find the writing process difficult, it is just that making a start seems to stump me. As an undergraduate I generally spent week’s researching my essays and then often only started writing the day the assignments were due (or sometimes even later). It took me a long time to realise that part of this is how my brain works. I was incredibly vicious with myself during the doctoral process for not writing every day like everyone said to. My ADHD brain doesn’t always let me work to a schedule like this. What I found, however, was that when I did finally sit down to write, I was writing about 10,000 words a day! I just needed to wallow in my ideas and figure out a framework and then words just gushed onto the page. Fastforward almost a year and I still haven’t actually published any journal articles. I got myself a copy of Wendy Belcher’s How to Write a Journal Article in 12 Weeks and I am determined to actually finish some of the many half-finished writing projects I have.
It has been interesting following the sudden influx of academics into Myanmar, both for research and teaching purposes. I know that they have been lurking about the fringes since far before I began to dip my toes into the waters here but it seems like this year there is a real boom. Perhaps it is just that I arrived here during the wet season which is a time that a lot of ex-pats plan extended holidays and I imagine little research is conducted. When I first arrived in my dormitory the many, many rooms were populated by a pair of Koreans working on a teacher education project, a Chinese professor studying Myanmar Studies, a Japanese professor working in the law department, and a mysterious American from Johns Hopkins working on something. Now a large portion of the dormitory is actually filled with English-language teachers on a British Council project teaching English at Yangon University of Education, but even that is a real step forward in a country which wouldn’t let me onto the University grounds in September 2013 without an appointment with a staff member.
Well those of you who know your Shakespeare will be able to guess at the topic of this blog post: the politics of naming. It has been floating about my brain on and off for the last 6 months or so, and even more infrequently prior to that. I felt like it was time to cough it all up however as just last week we had to write about our names and naming in my Writing & Thinking Workshop and today when I was asked what I studied by my Thai hosts the Thai translation made me pause. But more on that later. I guess I’ll start off with the piece of 5 minute Focused Free Writing I did on the naming of things and then see if I can wedge in some academic discourse somewhere along the way.
I first planned to write the post weeks ago back when it was all so fresh in my mind and I was busy reading Khin Myo Chit’s book Buddhist Way of Life in Myanmar and Other Articles. Of course as always I managed to get myself sidetracked onto other things and now I can’t quite remember the details I had planned to put here. I’ve signed myself up for AcWriMo (Academic Writing Month) which is kind of like NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) but the aim is not to write a set number of words, but rather to complete a single piece of writing. My goals are to finish one draft chapter, probably on the historical background of my topic, or on the general specifics of the objects of worship. I also aim to finish my book chapter which is likewise due at the end of the month and of course I am aiming to get myself into a routine with these blog posts. There are so many fascinating things I am learning about and getting to experience but I am often just too exhausted once I get home to even consider sitting up to write about them for any audience but myself. I am thinking of limiting the days I spend in at the University once this current workshop ends and that may also help with spending some time focusing on theory and concentrating on the other side of research: writing.
I never really thought much about my gender growing up. Sure I was a girl, but I was never “one of the girls”. I spent most of my socialising with boys rather than girls. The girls were all busy doing stupid boring stuff like playing with dolls or playing house. This isn’t to say that I didn’t do these on occasion, but it usually involved me playing the husband/father role which only added to the boredom. The boys however were riding bikes down to the lake, collecting cicadas, flying model airplanes made from balsa wood, or making kites and taking them to the local quarry to fly. Of course it didn’t help/hurt that living near me were the kids my age were mostly boys when I was growing up. As an adult I found it easier to form friendships with males mostly because my interests set me apart from other young women my age. I wasn’t interested in gossip magazines or the latest TV Soaps. This isn’t to say that all, or even most, young women are interested in these things, but the ones I mostly met were. Instead my friends were the guys I met who played D&D, who love Japanese anime shows and who would likewise stay up all night playing their latest favourite computer game. Gradually as I settled into being comfortable in my own gender-challenging interests and identity I found other women who shared my interests, and even found friendships with women who didn’t necessarily share them all but shared similar outlooks on life and geeky senses-of-humour. Still my gender really didn’t come into play much until I started studying feminism and even then I thought of gender bias and discrimination as something that happened to other women but never to me.
Well this is my first weekly summary so of course I am bound to forget a few things and jump about the place wildly as things come to be, but that’s my nature really. I had planned to visit the Shwedagon Pagoda today seeing as I haven’t managed to visit it at all this year. Unfortunately I woke up around 7am with a horribly upset stomach and ended up spending the day at home feeling sorry for myself. I’m not bad enough to have caught any real case of food poisoning, I think it was perhaps just a case of too much chili or too many of those groundnut & sesame brittle candies I love so much. I’m feeling a lot better now and I was able to have both lunch and dinner. I think sometimes it is just the heat too which gets to me although today wasn’t too bad at all. I haven’t even turned the air conditioner on yet.
So I’ve decided that writing these epic 3,000 – 5,000 word posts is kind of defeating the purpose of putting these notes online. They are ending up being too large too often for the casual reader to find time to read. As much as I try, I struggle to write any less so I have made a decision to cut back on these posts. I will still write my daily fieldnote entries of everything I have done for the day and reflecting on what I have seen, heard and/or experienced. I will no longer post each one online however, rather I will import them directly into Nvivo. I will instead write up a weekly summation of events each Sunday night with the highlights of the week. I will also post other short items of interest as they crop up, such as this one. I think this will make the blog a lot more readerly to my audience who are mostly not anthropologists anyway. I also need to cross-post some of these to my travel blog. I spend on average 2-3 hours a day writing up my fieldnotes so any opportunity to reduce some time spent with them is useful to spend on other things. My laptop is currently non-functional, I am hoping that it is a problem with the power supply and can be easily fixed. This of course means I can’t do any work in Nvivo but has the added bonus of removing me from the temptations of computer games and television and therefore forcing me to spend some intense time on learning the Burmese language. Once again I digress, time to return to Monday’s born…