Sunday, October 3, 2010

Exegesis Looming

Apologies for having been absent so long. My course (Master of Creative Media/Creative Writing) is nearing completion and I find myself with a great deal of work to do and little time in which to do it. I've finished my major project - an adaptation of my novel as a screenplay, or at least a draft of it - but now I must write my exegis - a report on the research undertaken to assist in my project. If I fail to complete the exegesis on time, the entire two years will be have in vain. So forgive me if I don't write many posts over the next few weeks.

Part of the reason I left it so long was that the more I heard on the subject, the more confusing it became. This could be due to the fact that the class on exegesis writing is given to a cross-section of creative practititioners, so that writers are studying alongside photographers, musicians, etc. And for all the explanations of what was required, we were never shown specific examples.

A huge thanks to Jacinta Halloran, a writer who was in my novel-writing class in Prof. Writing & Editing several years ago, and who sent me a copy of the exegesis she completed a couple of years ago. Thanks to Jacinta's fabulous example, I have a much better idea of what's required.
Jacinta is the author of Dissection, a wonderful, literary novel about a female doctor who is sued for negligence after making an error in judgement. Short-listed for the Victorian Premier's Award, the novel reveals how a single mistake can ruin lives.

Doctors are particularly vulnerable. Years of excellent diagnoses count for nothing if a single serious error is made. This is something every parent can relate to. A mother turns her back for a single second and a child drowns. She is deemed a 'bad' mother. People are so quick to judge, blame and criticise. The one second counts for everything. The hours, days and years she has been a wonderful mother count for nothing.

I remember when my kids were small, how I'd sigh with relief at having made it through another day. It's a feeling that never leaves you, the sheer relief and gratitude that they are alive and well. Equally memorable is the anguish when they are unwell or unhappy. When something happens to someone else's child through a moment of negligence, you think: There but for the grace of God go I.

For those of you who are already parents, be thankful for those acts of grace but give yourselves a pat on the back for all the things you've done right, for the hours, days, weeks, months and years of sheer devotion to your children. And for those of you who haven't had kids yet but secretly think you'll be perfect parents, be warned: There's no such thing. Parenthood may be rewarding but no other job demands such constant vigilence, strength and commitment. Parenthood is the definition of responsibility.

So why worry about an exegesis? If I write it poorly, no one will die, no one will be seriously injured, no lives will be ruined. And how glad I am to have that in perspective! Compared to being a parent, writing an exegesis has got to be a piece of cake!


  1. I missed your great posts!

    However I understand what you have to do - don't give up! Keep going!

    And you're right: no-one will die because you don't hand it in, but you've worked two years for this and to not do it, it would be a huge shame.

  2. Oh, all very best Robyn! You must be so consumed. I could send you a 'piece of cake' if it would help?? ;) jx

  3. Thanks guys. Oh, Jen. YUM. I'm always so jealous of your cake making skills. They look so delicious in the photos at Baxter Street. Your blog is so pretty and sensually appealing. Can almost smell the flowers, taste the treats...

  4. What a great idea for a Masters! I've been wanting to study for the longest time, but wasn't sure what to do. Was nervous about beginning a creative project because I need to write the first draft in isolation, so I might be ripping of your idea at some point. Also know what you mean about parenting. I remember the first few months after Sofia was born, the hormones were crazy, and if I saw anything bad happening to kids I needed to find a way to blame the parents in order to comfort myself that no such thing could happen to me. Which is a complete fallacy and soon faded, but it's interesting how we all rationalise in our own way.