Monday, 28 September 2015

Autumn - New Terms!!

Structure and Discipline

I hate the term 'discipline'.

The etymology of the word is simple enough:
1) Latin: discipulus and
2) English: disciple

Both suggest studentship. And studentship suggests learning, humility, studiousness, all concepts I am drawn to. But "discipline"? Somewhere along the line, connotations ranging from physical punishment to martydom have stuck to it; for me, it now conjures up images of the headmasters' office in some 70's boarding school, the basement dungeon in 50 Shades of whatever and, I dunno, Foucault's essays on repressive power structures. It's an entirely negative concept.

Back in the Spring, I was awarded a PhD studentship, due to start in October this year. Guess what? It's October this week - and it's all come around so quickly! I've already had one induction meeting and one supervisory meeting. I've also received two student cards- as an intercollegiate student, I'll be straddling two institutions - as well as separate cards for NUS and Senate House library membership. My wallet is swollen with new identities. In order to navigate the demands of my new course - and my wallet (which I've already lost once today) - I'll need to impose some kind of discipline structure, making sure I get through the next 3 years sane and qualified.

I prefer the word structure because it's less self-flagellating than discipline. I actually write, perform, teach, read, research and have a few healthy friendships, while occasionally taking a break when I can. That's no mean feat. It's not for a lack of discipline that I sometimes take weeks to reply to emails, stay up too late reading or don't write as much as I like. It's more of a structural issue, a lack of coordination and order.  

After many years of trying to work in admin, I know
a) I will never be the most organised person in the world and
b) I should stop trying to be.

I sort of know what doesn't work, and what does. Timetables don't work for me. Small lists do. Deadlines do. Apps, email reminders, or anything that clogs up my phone doesn't work. Some alerts do. Messages don't. Phone calls do. Handwritten notes sometime do. Libraries sometimes do. Early mornings usually don't. Late nights usually do. If I concentrate on doing the best I can work-wise and getting help when I'm losing myself, I generally manage. I'm going to have to get myself into some kind of rhythm so I can write, read, still perform - sometimes - and really do this justice.

A year ago to this day, I was about to be evicted from my home, had no regular income and was itching for funding to get on with writing my book; now, I'm on the most exciting journey I could have ever imagined. But I know I'm going to have to work hard for it and impose a little bit of structure so I get it all done. 8 years ago, I started my first MA degree. My old student card has been reactivated with the same photo... I didn't imagine I would be here again for a PhD, but life takes some unexpected turns, apparently. I'm pretty much a bundle of excitement and nerves at the moment.
Then... circa 2007

Now... circa midnight

Meanwhile, here's a brief list of 5 other things I'm doing right now:

1) Gigs - which I shall update soon! (i.e. in the next few hours or so)
2) Making a film of one of my poems (more on that soon)
3) Running workshops via Ministry of Stories (a really exciting project - when I'm able to say more, I will)
4) Working towards a full poetry collection, hopefully out in a year's time
5) Researching for a micro-commission at the London Metropolitan Archives (see November 20th in 'Upcoming Gigs' and stay tuned for more information).

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