I’ve been thinking about writing on my daily walks. I’ve been more consistently involved in the process of writing personal narrative over the past year and a half. But in reality, I’ve been working on this project for many years. I was grateful to be able to make a lot of headway on it at Virginia Center for the Creative Arts residency in 2019. My manuscript has grown in length and in depth. As I’ve continued to write, revise, reorganize, I’ve discovered things not as I lived them, but as I reflected on them. The writing and remembering has not always been easy, but I’m committed to telling the story that I need to tell. And I’ve never been one to take the easy road..
The most recent surprise I had was in a workshop on writing about trauma hosted by Zyzzyva and led by Ingrid Rojas Contreras. I took this workshop because the description noted that it would focus on approaching writing about trauma in ways that would produce something other than trauma porn and sensationalism. Right up my alley, I thought.
At the beginning of the workshop, Ingrid asked us to share our name, location, and what we were writing. I had no idea that I would share that I was writing personal narrative that came out of my experience of caring for my mother for 9 years. At first, I’d thought that the story was about caregiving, but I’d since discovered that it is about my growing awareness of the infrastructure of my family, the relationships I’ve had with family members, and how all of those things have impacted the relationship I have developed with myself. I had no idea that I would say any of those things until they tumbled from my lips. And I was grateful for the aha moment of being able to reflect on my writing and the journey I’d been taking and continue to take with it.
In Ingrid’s Zyzzyva workshop, we looked at work in several mediums and analyzed where the work is centered, who is dehumanized, whether there are exhibitionist tendencies, and more. What I liked about this was that we looked at a fiction passage, a clip from a television series, a poem, and a video created by a South African artist.
I’m going to share more about the work I’ve been doing and what I’ve learned from another of my personal narrative teachers, Vanessa Martir, in my next post. So that you can get an idea of Vanessa’s work through Writing Our Lives, I’m providing links. Check out Vanessa’s upcoming workshops and stay tuned for my next post.