On Writing

On Writing

The first half of my thesis candidacy year has nearly passed and I can hear the faint, imaginary sounds of Frank Sinatra’s “My Way” playing out the semester: “And now, the end is near/And so I face the final curtain.”

Getting accidental inspiration and a moment to breathe during a screen test for a video piece.

So much has happened in the last few weeks since my previous entry that it’s difficult to encapsulate. To build on that last entry of mine, then, I’ll address in this entry the upcoming milestone I mentioned therein: my thesis paper draft. For some, I’m certain, writing about one’s self and practice flows from hand to paper like a natural extension of the body and mind. However, for me—in writing my thesis paper draft—this was certainly not the case.

This semester, we were forewarned, would be extremely intensive with regard to writing, and I can now say that this was no overstatement. The days leading up to my submitting the first draft of my thesis paper were grueling ones, marked by fervent listmaking (as usual), painfully little sleep (also as usual), and constant talking to myself (maybe I should stop saying “as usual”). In any event, what I mean to say is that writing the first draft of my thesis paper took a lot out of me both mentally and physically.

However, as has been the case with most toilsome efforts I’ve undertaken while in graduate school, I learned a lot through and from this process. It was extremely satisfying to be able to articulate, in a coherent and congruous way, the trajectory that has helped me to arrive at my thesis work, including personal and artistic influences, breakthroughs, and the existing environment—artistic, social, and otherwise—contextualizing my work in this moment in time and history. So, challenging as it was, writing this first draft and seeing all the seemingly meandering thoughts in my mind manifest into a logical grouping of words was gratifying, to say the least.  Of course, I am still talking about a draft, and so it follows that more writing remains to be done. Nonetheless, having this strong framework of a draft inspires confidence in me as I approach creating its final form.

A sample of some of the projected video work I’m making simultaneously with writing my thesis paper.

And, indeed, all of the writing I have done in my Thesis I course this semester has worked in this intertextual manner, informing the next piece of writing that remains to be accomplished. Each writing was daunting and difficult at its respective moment and then, as if by alchemy, suddenly finished and facilitating the next writing. Project proposal became artist statement, artist statement became literature review, and literature review became thesis paper draft, all to culminate in a final thesis paper. In a sense, the entire semester of Thesis I had really been writing a thesis paper incrementally, all the while continuing to make the work that this paper describes.

In the next few days, then, I will be continuing this generative cycle as I write, compose, and edit my last additions to my thesis paper, closing the chapter on this milestone and starting on the next.