A True You.

For some writers, writing just happens. We exhale and words seep unto blank pages. To some, this may sound like a poetic process to some but many writers grapple with making sense of what has been produced.

I spent much of the last week diving into pre-existing research on the process of memoir writing and issues of identity. Two books I found especially informative were:

Neither Settler Nor Native: The Making and Unmaking of Permanent Minorities. By Mahmood Mamdani

The Art of Memoir by Marry Karr

In The Art of Memoir, Marry Karr states “The author of a lasting memoir manages to power past the initial defenses, digging part the false self to where the truer one waits to the more complicated story” (Karr, 38) This is something I struggle with deeply; Freeing myself of a presumed burden I carry.

Similarly, Mamdani presents many provoking arguments on issues of identify. He identifies key political eras that directly contribute not only to the displacement of so many, but their permanent minority status all over the world. The constant ” reimaging and redefining of the political community ” that occurs throughout the decolonization process but fails to address “the ideology of political modernity internalized under colonialism.” (Mamdani 34)

Mamdani addresses deep seeded issues of “citizenship” and “rights for whom” as a means of recognizing the political identity assumed under colonization as “not natural”. He invokes the readers mind to critically reflect on the invention of political identities as a tool to stratify and divide.

While Mamdani’s work seems unrelated to the work of memoir, it in fact helps clarify ” the truer self” mentioned in Karr’s work.

The process of memoir is deeply rooted in revealing what hides beneath the lived experience: The real you. As George Saunders beautifully writes,” We apply certain kinds of pressure to you, under which you are forced to flee to your highest ground…but hopefully, under that pressure, you leave behind all the false you’s- the imitative You, the too clever You, the Avoiding You- and settle into that ( sometimes, at first, disappointing) beast, Real You…Real you is all you have, and all the other paths are false. And in the best case, Real You is so happy to finally be recognized, it rewards you with Originality ” (Saunders 2013)

Works Cited

Karr, Marry. The Art of Memoir. HarperCollins , 2015.

Mamdani, Mahmood. Neither Settler Nor Native: The Making and Unmaking of Permanent Minorities. The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2020.

George Saunders. ” Failures of Kindness” MFA Graduation speech, Syracuse University, 2013

Research Updates!

I’m having fun researching. I don’t like having to find the sources themselves but when I do find that potential perfect source…*cue the confetti*

I get to use previous knowledge, like using an asterisk (*) after a core part of a word to get different variations of the word in your search results. I love that because it does open up different possible words that I can use and add to my search list.

And I get to add new knowledge like typing “AND kw:(…)” and fill in any word to an already searched phrase. With that, I’ve been easily able to add new words that I noticed as I was searching.

Over the next week, I’ll be looking through more search terms and skimming the sources on my laptop before printing them for a deeper read. I struggle to read on my laptop which is why I print everything.

So far, I only have 7 sources and I want to try to get to twenty with the hope that I will narrow it down to maybe 15. Which means I have to do a lot more research and a lot of reading.

Falling Behind

Editing has been extremely stress inducing for me. I’ve been doing more research into how to plot and trying to decide if something needs to be cut or moved. Making my work cohesive is really tough for me.

I understand plotting and novel structure from a reader and editor perspective, but for some reason when trying to use what I know for my own work I start to spiral. “Does this make sense? Should this scene follow this one? Should the chapter end/begin here?” etc.

I am falling behind on what needs to be done. I am trying to keep up with this project and just constantly feel like I am choosing what class(es) work I will not complete each week just to make my schedule work.

My Lit Review is something I am not worried about at all. I have read about 6-7 pieces and 4, maybe 5, of them will be in my Lit Review. As for note taking, I have annotated them and written a paragraph or so about my thoughts around them so when I need to come back to place them in the review document I have something to build on.