On Fictocriticism


M. asked me to talk for a bit about the process involved in writing my Ph.D. thesis at the London Consortium, for her class on practice-led research.  As a creative writer, I found it impossible to produce a conventional piece of literary criticism for the thesis because I can never write anything without making stuff up, so I found fictocriticism (a combination of fiction and criticism) an indispensable vehicle.  I ended up putting myself into the text as a character, then using first person narrative to write about my three subjects - Georgiana Molloy, Rosa Praed and myself.  This then tied neatly into the concept of the writing self being divided into two selves - the self which exists, and the self which writes about that existence - as described by Margaret Atwood in Negotiating with the Dead. I also discuss the impact my deafness had on my style, in that because I can't hear everything, I make the rest up, so what I write will invariably be made up of both truth and fiction.

Wordpress didn't like my video (and I am not technologically literate enough to work out why) so I put it on YouTube instead of here, but then they only accept files 10 mins long so I had to break it into 2 bits.  The first section is mostly an extract from my final chapter, and after that there's a discussion of my writing practice, which in this instance was motivated by a need to complete a process of mourning.


Things That Make Me Smile


Things have been kind of overwhelming lately, and I’ve been getting very little writing done which in turn makes everything worse.  I find the best way of dealing with it is just to let things go, but to retain my sense of humour.  So I’ve been thinking of things that make me smile.  Here is my list so far: A birthday card from H, titled, ‘You are EXTRAORDINARY (and a bit moody).’

Nephew running down the stairs to say, ‘Hello, Auntie Jess’ whenever I come home on my bicycle.

A blank Penguin notebook from C in England, titled ‘Men and Pearls’, by Louis Kornitzer.  I laughed when I unwrapped it.

‘What’s so funny?’ Sister asked.  ‘I don’t get it.’

‘It’s ‘cause I like both of them.’

How the puppy gets frisky when we’re running over grass and tries to bite his lead, tripping me up.  And how he lies on my feet under the dinner table, or under my desk.

The cockatiel that sits on the shoulder of the man who mends my shoes.

How Niece curls up against me when she’s tired and plays with my hair.

P1’s quips.

Nephew shouting from the bath, ‘Mummy, can you please come and scratch my back!’ and his mother yelling in return, ‘What did your last slave die of?’