The past is my future

Today I’ve been doing ethics. My god. Really? The form is insane when I’m not involving anything critical or sensitive. I just want to ask some people about accounting education. What’s the risk in that? Well apparently a lot. Like their office space….seriously there are some good things to think about and the form does let me put N/A a lot because I’m not drugging little children for fun. But it is still annoying.

So to minimise the pain I’ve been going back to old material to cut and paste to save time. This has been a good idea. Turns out all the historical stuff you write isn’t too bad. It really is a good idea to write lots and then revisit after time has past. I’ve been able to lift whole sections of my confirmation proposal which I thought at the time was pretty awful. So feeling not too unhappy today and I also am optimistic about my constant writing approach.

Sometimes people say I write too much as I do about 50 drafts of everything, however, today I’ve learnt by doing 50 drafts I get to pick and choose material on demand. Yes it is time consuming, but I think there might be something useful to come out of it all. And that’s no bad thing.

Another amazing thing today was to read the work of Doug. It’s lovely to read someone’s ideas after you’ve conversed on topics as you can see more fully how and why they are where they are. Hmmm, that’s not quite coherent. Doug – thank you for letting me read your draft on PAC (or as I say TPACK). I learnt stuff and I learnt a bit about your brain. And that’s a privilege for me. Thank you.

Frank and fearless advice

Back in the good old days of the Australian Public Service (APS), there was a clause in the legislation under which public servants are engaged. It was something like, “…the provision of frank and fearless advice…”. I like this expression. Frank means clear and true (well at least to me) and fearless, well, it means that anyone in the APS providing advice to the Government of the day should be fearless. There should be no dynamic preventing honesty in the advice being provided. They change the legislation and removed the word fearless. I have no idea what it says now as I’m so disheartened by Australian politicisation of the APS I no longer read the legislation. (Yes, I used to read the legislation for fun.)

Yesterday I had a meeting with David in which there was much frank and fearless advice – on both sides. It was while in this exchange I realised something. As tricky and complicated as the relationship with my supervisors is, there is just so much value and trust. This makes the relationship important to my thesis. Without the ability to be fearless David, and Linda, will not be able to provide me important ideas and feedback, but if I can’t be fearless, my thesis will become theirs, not mine. The fact we can all be frank and fearless is sometimes painful – we hear things we don’t necessarily care to – but there is great value for me and my thesis will be stronger for the experience.

As I said in my last post, I actually wrote theory content and this is what David and I discussed yesterday. We have agreed it’s a basis from which to move forward. I also mentioned in the post the work with Leo. We’ve met and have altered my proposal to a point where we think we’ve got a good paper. So, I now have a lot of work to do. A methodology chapter (not yet started), refinement of the Change Chapter (about 65% of the way there) and completion of the theory chapter (about 30% there) as well as data analysis for thesis and for the paper with Leo. All before 31 December. Good thing I quit my full time job yesterday! (Yes – I know rent will need to be paid……I’m sure there’s a job I can find…..anyone hiring?)

As a side note – I’m blaming Bruce again today. Even though I quit my job and have very limited income stream I spent money at Amazon today! I thought I could use the e-book for Logics of Critical Explanation for research, but Bruce spoilt me with all these beautiful books I can hold in my hands, flick through, visualise the page with the information, scribble in and tag up with post-it notes. Damn you Bruce for showing me such beauty!

Silence is not golden – but maybe the end is shiny

It’s been a very long time since I posted and that’s not a great sign. In fact even that post was depressing too. This is a really handy insight into my journey and I’m really glad it’s here to remind me how bad it’s been for so long. Of course bad is relative – I’m not starving, I’m not homeless and I’m warm (I currently have two heaters running). Bad for my thesis has been no writing in almost two months and total frustration with theory (again).

There’s the summary, now what’s the detail? Well, as can be seen in my last post the literature review was not ideal. Of course what happened was I sucked it up and gave it to my supervisors anyway because horrible feedback is better than nothing, and is considerably better than me sulking in a hole about how awful it is. Turns out, both supervisors weren’t too unhappy. They aren’t in love with it or anything, but they had constructive feedback and there was no suggestion of binning the whole lot. What did this teach me? Well, that maybe my bad is not the same as everyone else’s.

Other detail is David trying really hard to get me to write the theory and methodology chapters. He has given me structure, he has given me word limits for the structure, he has given me reading resources, he has guided, cajoled, prodded, advised, humoured and been patient. I repaid all this with an email to him expressing frustration and anger and stating how I was going to do what I was going to do and then we would talk about it.

Something amazing happened. As soon as I sent that email I started writing. A lot. And it wasn’t dreadful. I mean let’s not get delusion here, there’s still a very long way to go, but at least I can write about theory now without wanting to vomit. (That’s serious there people – theory made me actually want to throw up every time I tried to write.) My plan is to write as much as I can (with references and everything!) and then provide it to David so he can see my vision of theory rather than more conversations of me trying to explain what I mean, failing, getting frustrated and sulking.

The other amazing thing is back in July I met with Leo on our next collaboration and I promised him a proposal by the end of July. That didn’t happen and the guilt has been building. Today, I got it together, did the data analysis I needed to in order to draft the proposal and then drafted. It’s now with Leo for comment. I can see the next article in what I’ve written and more interestingly, the theory was also completely clear to me. I can see how discourse theory works in this next paper and how I would write it up. And so while the silence of the last two months has not been golden (teary, frustrated, complicated – but not golden) I think the results to come from the silence might just be a little shiny.

Opinion piece with references

For the first time in a while I’m sitting writing my literature review chapter and have come to a moment of realisation. I am not writing a thesis, I’m writing an opinion piece with references…

I understand it’s better to realise this now, rather than in two years, but I have no idea how to write a thesis without spending the rest of my days reading anything ever written about funding and universities.

Despair has arrived on my doorstop and it didn’t even bother to bring flowers.

I think I’ll stand up, make a cup of tea, come back, and see if I can’t get at least something that resembles and argument together, after all, I only have a deadline of Sunday…that’s ages away.

Attainment of Wisdom Methodology

The title of this post comes from my new post. We were discussing zones of uniqueness as Denise talks about how this is how you make money – by operating in your zone of uniqueness. I wasn’t sure I had as I’ve been a jack of all trades all my life.  My lovely boss then highlighted my ability to listen, gathering information, consider, and then understand in a way that a useful decision can be made. She then labelled it the Attainment of Wisdom Methodology (AOWM).

I have thought about this perspective in relation to APIRA and have realised she’s kind of right (she usually is) because a lot of the value from APIRA is coming to me the further away I get from the sessions and it relates to how my brain is piecing together the information from the sessions – which was great – with the people I met in the breaks. My last post referred to two, but there were so many people with so many perspectives and ideas, and slowly my brain is working out to apply all this to my thesis. In fact I started re-writing a chapter today based on APIRA ideas. That’s a pretty incredible impact.

Today has also been a day of decision. For my undergraduate degree, I drafted my essays by hand (partially because there were so few computers in those days) and this process of writing by hand changes how I think. As such, today I bought a notepad and have decided to try a system of Scrivener notes open on the lap top, mind mapping in my note pad and then writing the chapter the old school way. It might become a waste of time, in which case I’ll revisit, but I really feel like this chapter needs some hand written thinking.

As with APSA I’m hoping to post about some of the sessions I attended at APIRA, however I notice I didn’t go back to the APSA notes at all. I think this tells me something…..not sure what yet, but I’ll apply the AOWM and come up with something!

A precious moment

Today I’ve had a very precious moment. Early on advice was given to me and unusually for me I took it. “Write. Every day if you can. But just write. Write, a lot.” So I do. I probably don’t get every day, but I’d get close. And I save these random documents to the point where I have more, half and one pages of written ideas than I care to think of. And because it’s me, they are all sorted into numbered folders for easy access and Houdah Spot on the Mac is a great product for finding ‘that thing I wrote about that thing’.

But back to the precious moment. I’ve had what I think is a great thought about my theory chapter (but it’s not been a supervisor yet so, you know…). I started writing today in this structure I’ve got for the chapter and for the first time ever it feels right. But that’s not the moment. The moment is my brain going, ‘wait! you’ve written something like this before’ and low, in October last year I wrote a whole stack of words in the theory space which I can now reuse, to varying degrees. My random writing has paid off. My recording of ideas as they come rather than letting them slip away has become useful. At last I can see how I might get this done. By writing, every day, just something. Because it might just be useful in the future and I have technology to help me use it.

Another bonus was something I wrote in October 2015 referred to a journal article I didn’t remember so I went to Scrivener to look it up. I hadn’t recorded it! So I opened up the article from my archive, read it, made notes and it’s an awesome article I just hadn’t got around to doing notes on. Writing has made me not just have prepared words, but has also revived what was lost. This, is a precious moment indeed.

Trusting to accept

In my life I trust people very easily in that I believe they aren’t lying and I believe they want don’t want to harm others. I’m very bad at trusting others to help me. In fact I have a very dear friend trying to help me to learn to not just accept help when it’s offered but to actively seek help when I need it. He’s trying but it’s a long road and I’m very entrenched in my habits.

My last post was very hopeless, this week my post is hopeful. I was offered help and I’ve taken it.

David came up with a bright idea of how to write. Instead of writing a thesis, write 1000 word essays on set topics. At the time I felt so sad because I’d been reduced to him having to pat me on the head and offer a ‘dumbing down’ of the process. However, instead of ignoring his advice as I really wanted to do because I’m like that, I trusted him. Not only do I have one completed essay of which I’m reasonably satisfied, I’m writing my next one on theory and it turns out I know stuff!

Writing in little grabs that are complete in and of themselves is making feel like I understand rather than getting lost in all the ideas trying to come out at once. It’s nice not to feel stupid.

I would like to thank everyone who posted happy thoughts on FB after my last post, but in particular Bruce. He is an amazing person I trust regularly as I read everything he lends me! (well skim read some and heavily notate others). You are all amazing people and I will try to trust more and ask for help.