writing day #1: when thinking up writing projects isn’t the problem…

This winter I get to devote a lot of time to writing. So exciting! I should clarify, however. This winter will be dedicated to collecting, shaping, polishing and producing (in a variety of forms and media). I’ve been writing on this trouble blog since May of 2009 and I’ve generated a lot of words, ideas and topics for more in-depth writing. Now I need to do something with those ideas. Okay, I have been doing things with these ideas. I’ve used posts in my teaching, in my few published articles, presentations, and workshops. But I haven’t done enough with shaping them into more coherent, in-depth stories/narratives. And I haven’t engaged with them fully enough to be able to let go of some of them. What does that mean? Maybe I should explore that question in another blog post.

Lately, I’ve been reading Brain Pickings a lot on my Flipboard (I can’t quite articulate why, but something on the site is a little off for me…). A couple of weeks ago, Maria Popova (the creator of Brain Pickings) did an entry on various bits of advice that design graduates gave to current students. The following two seem appropriate for me and my own thinking about how to proceed with my writing projects in 2012:

First: to create ideas is a gift, but to choose wisely is a skill

Second: Finish What you Start. It May Seem Insignificant, But It Is Very Important That You Do It.

Troublemaker that I am, I have some problems with these pieces of advice (what gets left out when I choose? At what/whose expense am I choosing? Can anything ever really be finished?). But, I also see them as important reminders of the unproductive or damaging limits of making too much trouble–opening too many cans of worms–when thinking, writing, acting. This year I feel a strong need (and desire) to wrap up some projects, develop some thoughtful and tentative conclusions, and to create a few tangible products that I can use in other spaces outside of this blog. While I don’t want to stop questioning and being curious, I want to do more things with those questions and curiosity.

Over the next couple of days, I’m planning to spend some time thinking through which ideas to take up. Here’s one idea that I will write on, and not just because I have to–it’s for a possible workshop in June:

title: Shifting from Branding to Caring: Using Blogs in Feminist and Queer Classrooms to Resist the Online Crafting of a Neoliberal Self

abstract: This paper explores how using blogs in queer/feminist classrooms can provide students with spaces/tools for resisting, rejecting and transforming the neoliberal model of consumer-citizen-as-brand that is increasingly promoted as the primary way in which to cultivate the self online. Drawing upon Michel Foucault’s notion of the care of the self and various feminist and queer pedagogies, I argue that blogs can be used to encourage students to engage in practices of caring for the self and/with/in the midst of others. These practices include: making visible the process of becoming implicated in knowledge, negotiating (without eliminating) the complexity of multiple subjects and one’s own subject positions, making and staying in a state of trouble, and participating in collaborative knowledge production.

This project builds off a lot of my research and thinking about care and its possible practices online. I still need to think through how much I want to use Foucault here (in fact, as I look through this abstract I wonder if it might not be way too ambitious). Here are a few sources on branding that I’ve started reviewing:
Here’s one more bit of advice (and one of my favorite posters). I wish I would have followed it this morning.