Narratives are done!

Today I sent off the last of my three narrative chapters and my autoethnography to my supervisor, who is currently overseas. I’ve managed to keep the narrative of this final chapter to just under 16000 words, but I have hit the wall and have had to let her know I am a little bit stuck on the analysis of the findings. My supervisor sent me some really great comments about my autoethno that I greatly appreciated and I have sent her a revised account, almost entirely rewritten and more detailed.

First of June: I thought I would be much further along than this! I am now ready to tackle my discussion chapter. A girlfriend asked me the other day what my findings were and I still had trouble articulating them, so the discussion chapter will be an excellent way of unpacking the findings and making them explicit. Currently I am still in the exhausted phase of just having finished the main part of my analysis, so I really don’t want to think about it ever again, but I need to get cracking on the discussion while the memories are still fresh.

I am realising my method for working is hopelessly intuitive. I have such trouble seeing the bigger picture for my study, yet I always thought I was a big picture thinker. I wonder if what I am seeing now is a change in how I approach large details. Reflecting on the essays I used to write as a young person, they were nearly always better when I didn’t have to worry about structure. I intuitively understood how to do it, without knowing precisely how I got there. Now when I write, I have to remind myself of the topic sentence, of the flow of the paragraphs, of the connecting sentences and the overall argument. Bloody difficult and annoying.

I read someone else’s thesis last week – one not yet ready for submission – and there were glaring errors in spelling, grammar and even the ideas were dodgy. There was no literature review to speak of and no methodology. The discussion chapter was ok. Thank goodness. It reminded me that my supervisor is really very good, that she has for the most part been understanding and rigorous in her supervision. And at the time when I have felt the least able to cope she has been able to listen to me and propose a solution for my angst.

So, now that I am about 47000 words down (hopefully only requiring light editing now), I can move onto the last part of my thesis. I’m still avoiding the literature review, but I have a cunning plan. My discussion will determine my literature. Those resonant bloody threads so important in narrative inquiry will help realise my literature. I’ve avoided writing about cultural psychology but I think now is the time to write a short essay on how it aligns with my research. Hopefully then the draft will be good enough to edit for the thesis. That’s the way I’m looking at most of my chapters, anyway!

I’m still uncertain whether I should write a survey chapter, given that it is descriptive analysis. Still, that’s a topic for another time.


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