2 weeks until submission

by stronged

Despite having submitted my first draft to Adrian a week ago, I am still unhappy with the shape that it is taking. With large pieces of writing I find it hard to put the entire piece in perspective. Working off the word counts that I tally up for each chapter hardly shows the visual and rhythmic flow of the piece as a whole. Writing my feature screenplay last year – that went to roughly 120 pages – was easier as I knew there was no chance I would repeat myself in each scene. Even though the narrative was nonlinear in structure, it was still built on causality, and therefore easier to get my head around.

With my exegesis, as the topic of placemaking is so convoluted and complex, I continuously find myself repeating key points throughout the entire document. It is hard to orientate myself in such a messy, sprawling discussion of placemaking. I am hoping by including images relating to the Bend of Islands a system of markers will guide me into the relevant topics rather than just relying on subheadings.

In my meeting with Adrian yesterday he advised me that I should really focus upon my exegetical writing as opposed to continuing to work on my creative project. If I do not manage to go through at least two edits of my exegesis before submission, I will be decreasing the likelihood of a pass in Honours. This was definitely an alarm bell that has steered me into putting more of my time and effort into reworking my first draft. I am desperately trying to find a shape to my argument and discussion.

I’m finding it hard to let go of working on my project as I have already put so much time and effort into it already. I also feel a responsibility to the Bend of Islands community (the Benders) to get the project to a particular standard as they have sacrificed their own time to take part in it. This is the frustrating thing about institutions, their strict criteria and deadlines does not factor in polishing an industry standard product. I share the blame in this situation also, as my time management with sorting out the Ethics Application was not as effective as I’d hoped. Nevertheless, tertiary programs privilege “the process” over the product in order to emphasise the importance of how we go about creating things – not the quality of the things themselves.

I still have a great deal to do in order to lift my k-film triptych to a publishable quality:

  • Sequence the new batch of Vines in Premiere to create differing length SNU’s
  • Convert .mov files to MPEG4’s to use as 480×480 square Vine ratio’s (unfortunately I mixed the formats when shooting some of the footage – namely the video portraits and wildlife shots – out of necessity. Now I am faced with the challenge of converting the footage into a useable format)
  • Cut down .mov clips to 6 second duration
  • Strip sound from the Vine clips
  • Add audio transitions to the interview track
  • Switch the prototype soundtrack with the new footsteps track I have put together
  • Change keywords from near, medium and far to water/river, man/artificial, near and far for the plants (trees, orchids). This hopefully will signify the intimacy the Benders experience with their environment, where their growing awareness of the place shifts their focus to concentrate on the details as much as the natural environment as a whole. The river is what binds the place together; the geology, plants, animals, and people.

I have set myself the deadline to submit my next draft to Adrian by Friday (11th Oct). This will allow me to have a little less than two weeks to go through two edits before submission. I’m definitely cutting it fine but I have no other choice.

Working so intensely will involve early mornings and late nights at the lab. I still need to push my exercise regime as my brain doesn’t operate too well when the rest of my body is feeling lethargic. If I encounter writing blocks I will swerve around them and continue to soldier on – I cannot afford time spent fretting over one particular problem. I can always circle back to the problem, it is more important to keep the flow of words coming out rather than not producing anything.

Currently I have roughly 14,000 words down. It is optimistic to say that a third of these words are useable. Most of this word count comes from discussing a disparate array of topics related to placemaking and interactive documentaries. I need to hone in on the topics I feel are most relevant to my piece – this means killing some of my darlings.

The topics I feel are most pertinent are:

  • hybridity
  • assemblage
  • becoming (“chora”)
  • routes/flows
  • ontography
  • Korsakow/interactive documentaries
  • musicality

Adrian pulled me up on not backing up particular claims I am making as well as not constructing a sound argument. I think this is more to do with how I am framing the particular claims that I am making rather than the claims themselves. If I introduce them in the context of my research (e.g. From interviewing members of the Bend of Islands community, I have found that their idea of placemaking hinges upon either qualitative or quantitative interactions with their environment) rather than dropping them in flippantly or dogmatically (e.g. The bond we form between the facets in a place stem from either the qualitative or quantitative interactions we have with them), the research becomes much more explicit and evidence-based as opposed to speculative or coming purely from my own experiences.

Another point that was brought up was that if I am using Massey’s theories, I need to be cautious to not delve into her political extrapolation (i.e. the political flows and hierarchies apparent in any given event/place). Many of the theorists I am using have rich, extensive bodies of work that I am merely plucking a morsel from. It is difficult considering the morsel only makes sense in the context of the rest of the theoretical discussions, so I’ll need to outline this context briefly before proceeding onto how it factors into my own research. “Outline” being the operative word, I cannot “detail” this connecting body of work as I simply do not have time or room to fit it into my exegesis.

I am slightly disheartened by being pulled up (yet again) by Adrian about a theoretical connection I thought was solid. I thought that ontography was a phenomenological practice as it relies upon our subjective perspective when list-making. Adrian advised me that it is actually anti-phenomenological as it is a practice that steps us away from our own subjectivity; a way to think from the perspective of a “thing” rather than a human. Which complicates my methodology as it involves phenomenology (humanist geography) as well as ontography (ontological hybridity).

Here’s a rough keyword map Adrian sketched out and notes I have since jotted down to remind me when I get the chance to change the keywords for version two of Placing the Bend.

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