Saturday, February 27, 2010

I've been meaning to write...

from loveyourchaos

... So I finally did.

Sorry folks for being missing-in-action in the last while. I took a mini-sabbatical from blogging because of work deadlines (as I'm sure you could surmise from my last little poem). I hope you all enjoyed your CNY celebrations and are well re-charged over the hols to tackle the challenges presented by the new Year of the Tiger.

For my part, I'm really happy to say that I managed to beat my writer's block where my research is concerned (I sorely need a mad rave-dancing smiley here!) :D For a long while there I was drowning in both my own materials as well as those of others, and then for another long while there I had my models and frameworks worked out, but couldn't find the enthusiasm to properly write them down; or I had them written as individual papers but had no enthusiasm to re-write them as proper chapters (and of course, all along I have been bogged down in teaching, in course management, in other people's grant applications, in my own students' research projects, in academic committee work, and reviewing other people's applications, etc. etc., so that I had precious little headspace for finishing my own work.)

But last week, I handed in something that I am genuinely quite proud of. Though it's not the end of it yet and there are still more I need to get done, I'm glad I'm having my full sails up and getting a good head wind.

How did I manage to break through the block? Having a great, genuinely supportive mentor helps, reading this also helps (in particular, Neil Gaiman's top 3 rules:

1 Write.

2 Put one word after another. Find the right word, put it down.

3 Finish what you're writing. Whatever you have to do to finish it, finish it.)

At the end of the day, it really is as simple as that. I intend to keep up my good work, thank you very much.

I do realise that I also have other writing obligations that I still need to attend to, especially where blogging is concerned (like I still need to finish my post regarding the 20 publications that most influenced me in the Noughties! And a whole bunch of other things I have wanted to blog in the last while, like the interiors decor tips post I just promised Myblahblahblah, and like the few JDIFF films that I manage to catch this couple of weeks). But I discover that feeling guilty about lack of blogging is far more pleasant than feeling guilty over lack of progress re: finishing my thesis.

So sincere apologies dear blog-friends, but I'd probably have even more periodic absences from my blog as well as your blogs in the near future. (I do admit I read your blogs surreptitiously though, as all of your blogs are just so darned great that I can't stay away, even if I could not bring myself to comment - because doing so will drag me into reading people's replies as well...) So please do keep up your wonderful blogging folks, you've provided me with a source of inspiration and comfort in your blogposts, even if I don't manage to comment to show my appreciation.

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At Sat Mar 06, 01:26:00 a.m. GMT, Blogger 微豆 Haricot said...

I come to your blog for the first time via "5 Points". Excellent writing style you have here, I must say !!!

Do you also write in Chinese? If yes, do you conceptualize your ideas in English, your operating language, or Chinese, your mother tongue?

At Tue Mar 09, 05:55:00 p.m. GMT, Blogger Snowdrops said...

Hi Haricot, thanks for stopping by my blog, and sorry I missed your comment the first time round as I thought it was just another promotion comment like 九份 above.

Thanks for your kind words re: my writing style. I don't really write in Chinese any more (apart from birthday/Christmas cards, I haven't done a proper hand-written letter to friends/family in ages, and I don't know how to type Chinese).

I do occasionally compose imaginary blog-posts in Chinese, or to perform English-to-Chinese translations in my head if I come across particularly wonderful passages in English. But the operative words here being "imaginary" and "in my head", as I'm sadly losing the skill to commit the Chinese words that exist in my head to paper quite a long time ago... I can still write Chinese words and form Chinese sentences, but am extremely out of practice.

So to answer your question. First of all, English has become more than an "operating" language to me now. It's the language I think in over 80% of the time, and the language that I use when I react to sudden pain, or when I was genuinely surprised.

But if we're talking about concepts in a pre-language sense (if such a thing exist, and I know Wittgensteinian philosophers would heartily disagree), I think in pictures and, more specifically colours, e.g. I find it extremely hard to put my experience of music into words, but I have no problem thinking of a piece of music as a composition in colour.

Where does that leave Chinese then? It is my mother tongue after all, and as such when I speak Cantonese with my family, I think in Chinese. Similarly when I read Chinese books or watch Chinese movies, my mind would operate in Chinese. But I have more and more of a tendency now to auto-translate the Chinese words I come across into English (sometime I would even put these translations up here on this blog). So sadly, I've come to the conclusion that I am really losing my mother tongue...


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