Parallel writing project

Back in the summer I started this blog to track my work in English 517, which was a feminist theory course and prep for my honours thesis. That class is technically finished, but my professor was generous enough to continue working with me on some of the topics that came up during the summer semester. We designed a final, year-long project which will be graded and my mark in that class potentially revised. Though, I will admit, I’m doing it more for the experience and the help than the mark.

My on-going project for that class is a parallel writing project, a creative non-fiction/personal essaying response to the process of writing my honours thesis. I have found it difficult to start this project in any kind of concerted, focused fashion. The goal of the project is to engage with the messy personal side of academic writing, to write something that can be whittled down to a publishable essay. Part of the process will involve my professor’s help in getting the essay to the point where I could submit it for publication, and selfishly that is the help that I am most interested in. I want to publish, both academically and creatively, and this is an amazing opportunity to get help with that process.

But my thesis touches on issues that are so important to me. Bodily autonomy, consent, feminism, sex-positive activism. It’s not just an academic writing project that I can observe and comment on, which is why the essay would have any value, but also why it’s hard to engage with. And, messily, writing this honours thesis is intersecting with a bunch of difficult life events. I’m sick. I’m losing someone I love (they move in less than two weeks). I’m struggling right now. It’s hard to write. It’s hard to write anything, let alone write something academic and then write something meaningful about the process of writing that academic thing.

But this blog post is important. It’s been on my to-do list for two months now. This blog post is my commitment to actually do this parallel writing project. I’m not sure what it will look like yet, but I commit to making it happen. You can watch it develop here. And maybe, sometime next year, you can read the finished, polished, published essay in a journal or a magazine somewhere.

Illness and upheaval, sadness and tiredness and writers block… it’s all good material. It’s all part of the process. It’s all worth the time to engage with, to understand, to articulate. So I’m going to do that.


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