Project Update #10, 26.02.20

As the deadline for Writing in the Community nears, I have decided to take the time to reflect on my project: how it has developed over time, the lessons it has taught me, and how the project will continue beyond Writing in the Community’s deadline.

First of all, I am thankful for this unit and the demands/aims/criteria of this assignment. If we had not been required to run a project, I would not have started asking for features from SSNAP and the staff at the NICU. I may not even have made contact with them at all – or, at the very least, about 9 months, my arse.

What the course of this unit and project has show me is huge: I have learned so much from liaising with SSNAP and trying to get the features for 9 months, my arse written.

Regarding the features from family, this didn’t go quite to plan. I was hoping to, at this point, have more than three features. And with those features, I feel that Gemma’s is the only one that will truly benefit the book. As I have alluded to in previous posts, my parents didn’t go as deep into their feelings as I had quite hoped – especially my father. I feel like their points haven’t been developed quite as much as they could.

For example, in my father’s original draft, he wrote: “I also have thoughts like ‘why us?’ and ‘what have we done to deserve this?’” However, he didn’t go on to build on this at all – he moved onto the subject of sadness, raising another point. Therefore, when editing his feature, I followed these questions with: “Questions that simply cannot be answered.”

As explained in the previous post, these features did not get the chance to be built on by my parents (as Gemma and I left the ‘system’) – therefore, when editing, I have had to do with them what I can. In this case, round the point for my dad by highlighting how these questions are frustrating and confusing because they have no answer(s) to them.

In comparison, Gemma’s feature was 1) a lot longer, but 2) more detailed.

I believe a huge part of this is that, unlike my parents, she is not afraid of showing her hurt and feelings to myself – as, after all, we share in this hurt and these feelings and we have guided one another throughout both. Likewise, she is more invested in the project as a whole. Being her partner, I am telling her story – as well as mine. This book’s purpose is not just that of my own, but that of Gemma’s too.

It is this reason I believe that Caz and SSNAP are fully behind the project too, willing to all write features and transform the initial plan for 1000 – 2000 words into something far bigger. After all, this book provides their charity with the chance to raise awareness and money for themselves and the unit. This project has the ability to change/benefit their charity for the good.

However, it is this same investment, this same sense of longevity, that has led to SSNAP taking longer with their features. Rather than write in time for the assignment deadline, they – as I have told them – realise that the book’s project and purpose go beyond the deadline. Therefore, Caz has appeared to prioritise getting more people onboard than getting words written.

And, honestly, I am glad for it.

Whether the lack of features/words hinders my grade for Writing in the Community, Caz’s desire to broaden the project has pushed me into writing 9 months, my arse quicker than I was initially writing it. Now, knowing that people are behind it and invested in it, I want to not just do myself justice, but to do right by them too.

Likewise, I am thankful for this project because it has opened my eyes to other books out there – either about premature birth, or about family dynamics and systems. This has transformed 9 months, my arse into something bigger than I first intended. Due to mine and Gemma’s own experiences as time has gone on, but also due to me learning of how common dysfunction and family troubles can be, 9 months, my arse would have been lacking if it didn’t touch on this subject, helping to answer the question: what do I do with my family in such a traumatic, life-changing experience?

Lastly, Writing in the Community’s encouragement for collaboration led to Gemma reading and then editing and adding content and/or notes for 9 months, my arse – a process which, during the early stages of our grief, family fallout, and the book’s creation, helped Gemma immensely in finding a sense of purpose and a way in which she could channel her thoughts and emotions. And where the book has helped Gemma, she has helped the book too. Naturally, there are parts of our story that I have forgotten or missed, and she has been able to bring these parts back in. She has, being from a medical background, been able to help keep the medical content more accurate.

Though starting this blog post at the end of February, I am finishing it now in early March, writing one final update as Caz (from SSNAP) has emailed all her colleagues and NICU staff interested in helping with the project. Though Writing in the Community is coming to an end, my project and 9 months, my arse will continue and develop as life changes and SSNAP and the NICU staff start writing their features.

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