I’m trying to get started on my paper for the fat studies conference and, like usual, I’m not making a very good start. I’ve written this outline about 10 times but I’m struggling with all the filler. By nature I’m rather a succinct person and once I’ve written something I am loathe to repeat myself. I guess for me the outline is good enough. If I was really ballsy I’d leave it there and fly down to Sydney and improvise the whole thing!
I’m also struggling because this paper is about me, and it’s about my experience as a fat woman on the internet. I’ve used the internet to write about the minutia of my life since about 2001, so when I have to take many steps backward and write about all of it from a distance it enters an awkward memoir zone that I do not want to enter for a few reasons.
- I’m 29 and although I’ve lived a fairly interesting life I don’t consider myself to be in any kind of position to be writing a memoir. I haven’t done anything significant!
- THIS. IS. ACADEMIA! *kick to the chest* I’ve written little about how academia intimidates me but I am truly scared about presenting this thing in front of an audience of people who are a lot smarter than me. Then again, many don’t have my experience so I guess I am in a position to tell them all my anecdata, but still. SCARED PANCELESS.
- What if I can’t remember things? My memory is not very good. What if I embarrass my loved ones by telling stories about myself they’re not comfortable with? Even though part of my charter in life is to talk about uncomfortable and awkward and challenging things, I still feel this overwhelming pressure not to embarrass anyone!
- In my experience as a very technologically savvy person I’ve been dismissed by many people as trite or not connected with reality. Basically my paper is about being a fat person on the internet, and I feel a lot of insecurity about both these things (and indeed the premise of my paper!) because fat women are totally not taken seriously, and also because the internet is seen by many as a funhouse or sorts. It’s for porn and it’s for lolcats. It can’t possibly be a meaningful part of a person’s life! (No! It can! That’s why I’m presenting this paper! Listen to me! Please!)
There’s a notion that process should be hidden in favour of exhibiting a finished piece in all its glory. Part of the reason why I blog is because that notion really doesn’t help me. I feel it only adds to the mysterious aura of creativity and how many perceive it to be god-given, and not a bunch of hard work. Let’s not kid ourselves: creating stuff is very hard work and it involves a lot of thinking and process. After writing out that list, I feel a sense of… having given my anxieties form. And you know what? Those shapes and forms are exactly the sort of things I want to illustrate in my talk. Writing helps me flesh out problematic concepts, and this realisation may well be the key to writing this paper!
So, I will hit “Publish” on this collection of ramblings to record this difficult process. I hope I’m able to approach the paper more easily now!