• Denby Weller

Journal Prompt 10

A meta-reflection activity! Review all your previous journal entries. As you read through your previous journal entries, what catches your attention or is meaningful to you? After you select a few entries, ask yourself these questions, and write your responses:

1. Why did I make this selection?

2. Have I changed since then? If so, how?

3. What does it mean to me and my research?

Okay, I've done a lot of talking around journal prompts rather than speaking directly to them, so in talking around this prompt (yes, I'm going to do it again!), I'm going to speak directly to the reason that I'm playing such a game of avoidance.

I really hate this style of journalling. I find it intrusive and embarrassing, and I don't want to do it. I don't hold the belief that it's not a valuable process, but I just don't find value in it myself. I was required to do thousands and thousands of words of this kind of introspective, reflexive journalling in my Masters of Writing – which had a very strong focus on practice-led research, and I suffered it, but I'm sorry, I'm just done with it.

I have a student at the moment who is sort of 'refusing' (as I am here) to engage with some of the coursework, and I have talked to him about why. He says that he feels that he knows the learning outcomes of the course already, and doesn't want to waste his time going through the motions. I point out that I'm asking him to do it in class, so he's stuck there for two hours whether he does the work or not... hence the time is not 'wasted.' This draws out a reluctant submission to do the work, but as a teacher I know that's really unsatisfying, so, Nick and Bhuva, I'm sorry to be giving you the same unsatisfying reluctance, but every time I think about trying to answer this prompt with more directness, I really feel a bit ill.

It's not lost on me that this may be an area for me to look at.

Perhaps what's going on here is an unwillingness to go to a more revealing place? I can see in my posts so far that I've had a tendency to hide behind writerly devices, or cleverness, or even scathing analysis, rather than talking about my feelings in this process or engaging in any authentic and uncensored introspection.

Even so, the process of sitting down to write each week, and getting it done, even when the 'it' I get done is not quite what was intended, has had value. It has given me another taste of weekly, pre-scheduled writing, and an appreciation for the value of persistence and consistency. The material that has formed the journal prompts has also been really enjoyable to consider – it just hasn't always been enjoyable to consider it in the way I've been asked to.

I have also loved relating to myself as a blogger. Like just about every human ever, I've periodically held fantasies about writing a blog, and this journal has given me a wonderful opportunity to learn how to work the blogging function on my website and populate it with some content.

There is something I have to say about not submitting a paper version of the journal too. Unlike my steadfast avoidance of the journal questions, my decision to write the journal in cyberspace has had more to do with affordances than any unwillingness to participate in producing a physical artefact. I have definitely picked up on Bhuva's delight in the physical form of the journal, and those images have been really lovely to dwell on. Indeed I do keep physical notes with me – but my relationship to the physical and virtual journal is the reverse of yours, Bhuva. In this virtual space, I have freedoms that aren't there when I write in a book.

I have particularly enjoyed finding photos from my collection that sum up what each prompt gives me, and I wouldn't have been able to print good versions of these under Stage Four restrictions here – so this is one area where I've been immersed in a practice that has a materiality to it – it's just not the materiality of paper and pen.

I took this shot at a huge Buddhist shrine in Kathmandu two weeks after the 2015 earthquake. It was brimming with people that day, buoyed by their beliefs and smiling... it was hard to imagine that these same people had lived through the terror of the quake just a handful of nights earlier. Human beings are truly resilient creatures.

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