To repeat an oft-repeated concept from this course: Creative writing is about much more than writing creatively. It’s about making sense and meaning of our worlds. And that includes making sense and meaning of our own lives. Every story, poem, or novel we write, every thing we create–whether it’s a painting or a resume or an outfit to wear one day or a snap decision to give money to a homeless person or not–constructs our worlds, and our individual identities. All of these things are creative activities, and they are all ways in which we “write” ourselves, and the story of our Selves in the world.
The “Composing a Life Story” exercise below is about using the creative thinking skills you’ve developed to reflect on one specific aspect of your personal identity in a creative way, and to make some sense and meaning of that. After all, I think we’d all agree that it’s useful to reflect on our personal lives, and to understand ourselves as thoroughly as possible. Creative thinking and creative writing are useful tools for self-reflection.
WHAT TO DO
FIRST, read Bateson’s essay, “Composing a Life Story.” It focuses on the different ways that individuals and cultures create narratives in order to make sense of their world, their identities, and their histories.
SECOND, work through the “Composing a LIfe” exercise. Don’t let the length of this document scare you! A lot of the document contains quotations from Bateson’s essay, and examples of the extended exercise.
THIRD, Post the results of the “Composing a Life” exercise on the “Composing a LIfe” forum. You only need to post results from the final exercise–the final poem itself. See the handout for details. If everyone posts their work, we’ll have a “mini-anthology” of personal meaning-making that will probably be very meaningful, touching, humorous, impactful, engaging, or all the above, for the whole class.
You are not required to post responses to your classmates’ posts, though I encourage you to do so.
Your poetic ability with rhyme, rhythm, meter, form, etc., will not be graded, critiqued, or even questioned. This exercise is only about sharing meaning creatively, NOT about effective use of craft, or about poetic quality. Put yourself out there. You might make a difference in someone’s life. That’s part of what creative writing is all about.
Bateson_Composing a Life Story.doc
Composing a Life exercise.doc