Letting go of a concept: finding 'I remember, I forget'

Smith Daniels, S (2020) Letting go of a concept: finding 'I remember, I forget'. PhD thesis, Bath Spa University.

Abstract

This dissertation comprises a literary novel, 'I Remember, I Forget', and a contextualizing thesis. The novel is written in two parts. 'I Remember' explores marriage, widowhood, and dislocation through Meg Thomas' s direct address to her long dead husband, Jack. At the time of this address, sixty-year-old Meg is facing the specter of encroaching memory loss. In 'I Forget', Meg travels to Ireland, the birthplace of her grandparents, in search of her identity, both the one she is losing to illness and the one she feels has been subsumed by the Midwestern landscape and culture of her husband's family. What she finds instead, at this short end of time, is a love affair that puts to rest the pain of her past and fear of the future. The supporting research is an examination of my original concept for 'I Remember, I Forget', which included a magical realist/fantasy narrative mirroring the shifts in Meg's consciousness and memory due to Alzheimer's, and the difficulties I found with its execution. I explore the various ways (and times) I approached the problem, and how my stubborn unwillingness to give up on the concept interfered with my creative process, until, all possibilities exhausted, I started over and found my way to the novel presented as part of this dissertation. I have organized the research chronologically, from inspiration to concept, through a survey of Alzheimer's literature which alerted me to the overuse of common signifiers of dementia and how I might avoid them, to the ultimate problems with the magical realist strand, that failed, over and over again, to interest my readers. I look with retrospection at the feedback I received and the evolution of my understanding of where the problems lay. And finally, I consider other novels I read when at an impasse, and how they catalyzed something in my writing and allowed me to find a path forward. This dissertation comprises a literary novel, 'I Remember, I Forget', and a contextualizing thesis. The novel is written in two parts. 'I Remember' explores marriage, widowhood, and dislocation through Meg Thomas's direct address to her long dead husband, Jack. At the time of this address, sixty-year­-old Meg is facing the specter of encroaching memory loss. In 'I Forget', Meg travels to Ireland, the birthplace of her grandparents, in search of her identity, both the one she is losing to illness and the one she feels has been subsumed by the Midwestern landscape and culture of her husband's family. What she finds instead, at this short end of time, is a love affair that puts to rest the pain of her past and fear of the future. The supporting research is an examination of my original concept for 'I Remember, I Forget', which included a magical realist/fantasy narrative mirroring the shifts in Meg's consciousness and memory due to Alzheirner's, and the difficulties I found with its execution. I explore the various ways (and times) I approached the problem, and how my stubborn unwillingness to give up on the concept interfered with my creative process, until, all possibilities exhausted, I started over and found my way to the novel presented as part of this dissertation. I have organized the research chronologically, from inspiration to concept, through a survey of Alzheimer's literature which alerted me to the overuse of common signifiers of dementia and how I might avoid them, to the ultimate problems with the magical realist strand, that failed, over and over again, to interest my readers. I look with retrospection at the feedback I received and the evolution of my understanding of where the problems lay. And finally, I consider other novels I read when at an impasse, and how they catalyzed something in my writing and allowed me to find a path forward.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Note:

This abstract is represented here with the exact wording used in the print thesis, including all deliberate repetition.

Keywords: creative practice based, creative writing, novel writing, memory loss, romance, marriage, widows, Ireland, U.S.A., Alzheimer's, dementia, magic realism
Divisions: School of Creative Industries
Date Deposited: 08 Sep 2021 11:59
Last Modified: 08 Sep 2021 11:59
Request a change to this item or report an issue Request a change to this item or report an issue
Update item (repository staff only) Update item (repository staff only)