My Journey

From mind to paper and back again.

Chapter 21 – Life Writing

on May 23, 2009


Vignettes – short snapshots of literature, normally a page long with a short comment at the bottom as a brief explanation. Uses: fragmentary, diary, journal entries, letters, blog entries, and photographic journaling. Discussed about jean Rhys on page 295 of course book. I like this idea.

Narrative – unbroken, in order (Benson) a complete narrative is almost impossible (Trollope) but should aim to include all aspects, good and bad of a person’s life.

Memoir – focuses on writers’ memories, episodes without a seamless transition, not a complete record, can be written for biography or autobiography and can sometimes jump backwards and forwards between memories and timelines.

Travel Writing – use connected and fragmented methods and write biographically using short chapters between a paragraph and two pages long. Can switch subject often including tone, history, human geography and the nature of travelling.

Diary – a record of daily events, less detailed than a journal, of a personal nature and are normally only of public interest when about a person who is well known. Difficult to publish, level of detail depends on the subject, the time in history and the background of the person.

Journal – shares a lot of characteristics with a diary, focuses on everyday events and feelings. May concentrate on striking events and thoughts, could be a workbook or notebook, often kept by writers.

Letters – collections written by public figures are often published, a form of autobiography similar to a diary or journal.

Activity 21.2 – Through lines

The room is cold, sat in front of me are three tables and at each table a high ranking officer from the wing. My nerves kick in as I stumble over my words, attempting to answer the questions placed before me. My nice suit and well done hair and make-up are unable to hide my current state. Word count 57

As I get changed I know the cadets on squadron are going to have a shock. All new they’re not used to seeing me in the uniform of the RAF, a uniform I haven’t worn for a while and feel good putting on again. I feel smart and confident. Word count 49

Standing on parade for the last time at the squadron, many expectant faces looking back at me, waiting for me to speak. The tears are welling in my eyes as I receive a bunch of flowers, some lovely cards and a new diary. I vow to keep in touch with them. Word count 51

My Through Line is cadets.

Activity 21.7 – Bildungsroman form

This form employs past, present and future. It charts the education and development of the main character to maturity. It’s a novel with autobiographical nuances. Broken friendships, faith in a comic book style hero (such as father/mother/role model). It shows how are character is shaped. An entrance and exit. I’m not keen on this style as I don’t fully understand how it works.

Activity 21.8 Past and Present Tense 150 Words Each

I was nervous on the drive to Doncaster from Manchester; I was on my way to a new place, eighty miles away to knock on the door of someone I’ve never met before. Sure I’d spoke to him on the phone once or twice, I knew a bit about him, like the fact that he was in the RAF. That made me think that he’d be a nice guy. He was on sick leave at the time I went, he had an accident on the low ropes obstacle course and damage his back. As I stepped out of my car where the satellite navigation system had directed me to and noticed how deserted the street was. I checked my hair and make-up one last time before knocking on the front door not knowing what to expect. As it opened I had to strain my neck to look in the eyes of this guy, who I now realised was a complete stranger! He invited me in and we began to talk. Word count 170

As I drive around this completely strange, new area my nerves start to dawn. I’ve never met this guy before, in fact we’ve only spoken a couple of times on the phone. What am I doing here? I’m eighty miles from home in an area I don’t know who can come to my rescue if it all goes wrong. I mean, look at this street – it’s empty! Completely empty. I’m here now and I wish that sat nav would shut up! I’m fed up of hearing it. Take a deep breath; check your hair and make-up. You’ve been in the car for over an hour, it fades, just a quick check. Should I turn around and go home? No, I’m here now, he’s in the RAF, he must be nice. Let’s see, bag, handbag, phone, check. Got them. Okay, lock the doors. Deep breath, tap don’t bang. He’s nothing like what I expected. I like his smile, I feel better now. Word count 161

Activity 21.10 – Loss

Some of my writing has been based on loss, the piece about my grandad’s ghost was based on the loss of my grandad when I was still a baby, the loss of my immune system and confidence – snatched from me in 2005 when I found I had cancer. The loss of childhood going in to my teens.

Other through lines – love, houses (homes), ghosts, food.

Activity 21.11 Through Lines

Loss, Ghosts and Change

Some people believe in ghosts, others don’t. I’m not sure what I believe, my rational mind tells me that they’re not real but I know I saw my Grandad one night, seven or eight years after he had passed away. I felt warm and safe, rather than afraid, he was smiling down on me, looking after me. Ghosts though, aren’t always of someone that died. As we grow up, we change and mature, the ghost of that bubbly child is out there somewhere, being looked after by the stroppy teenager or the confident twenty something back from university. The ghosts of our memories locked away in our subconscious waiting to be made whole once again.


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