I’ve been reading about autoethnography and wishing I had the skill to write dialogue well. It has never been my strong point because I have difficulty wanting it to be exactly what people say, but in reality dialogue isn’t exactly what people say. It is a cleaned up version of what people say. People don’t talk that clearly in real live. In real live, dialogue involves a lot of ums and ahs, as well as ‘you knows’ and other such phrases. These all get stripped out of dialogue when writing for publication.
Bochner and Eliss (2016) highlight that autoethnography is a combination of social science inquiry and artistic voice. They say “Evocative autoethnography has to merge painstaking empirical work with taxing artistic labor” (p. 248). They are semi-fictional accounts in that they are “bound by what actually happened” (p.248) but also written in a way that communicates a morale that resonates with readers. Readers are brought into the story and get something from reading it – but that something isn’t necessarily the same for each reader. The messages and emotions that are evoked through writing this way bring about different reactions for each reader.
I then realized, why do I need to learn to write in a totally different way? If my blogging ‘voice’ resonates with people, then is it not an effective voice to be using? Why do I feel the need to do something in a totally different way that is unnatural for me? This too leads to a sense of impostor syndrome. I ask myself could I be an autoethnographer? but then I wonder, am I not one already?
It brings me full circle really. When I started back to school I looked into the idea of using a ‘blog’ as a dissertation. What I realize now is that it is a misunderstanding/interpretation of language. It isn’t that I would be using a ‘blog’ as a dissertation, it is that I could write chapters of my dissertation in the form of a series of blog posts. I understand the difference between ‘a blog’ and ‘a series of blog posts’, but those who don’t blog don’t necessarily get it. This lead me down the wrong path – a path of exploring blogs as a whole for dissertations, rather than using the blog genre of writing as way of writing chapter (or chapters) of my dissertation. For example, I could write a chapter that demonstrates the conversations that happen as part of the backchannel – the ones that researchers who look only at the surface of blogs cannot see – the conversations that I am privy to because I am an insider in the community. Rather than writing a ‘dialogue’ as people speaking, I could write a ‘dialogue’ as written communication between blogger and reader of blog. That would be something that is totally in the style and voice that I understand. It would be my voice rather than a voice that I’m trying to mimic.
What do you think? Do I need a new voice?
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