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Life Writing 226

The last but one paper to do to finish my degree! Whee! (I’m ignoring the fact that I can’t get the other one done before I go, and will thus leave the country an unqualified bum).

So far, I’m loving this. The course readings folder is huge, which is unfortunate, because I have a history of not being able to stay awake while I make my way through those things. I quite often fall asleep with the folder on my face. I love theory, it just makes me sleepy.

I’m reading Michael Ondaatje’s autobiography, Running in the Family, which is fascinating so far, and incredibly well written. Or maybe I just think that because I didn’t expect to find biographical writing at all interesting, so my low expectations have been exceeded. I’m a little bit egocentric. Other people’s lives only entertain me if they’re dramatic and filled with death and love and explosions. Actually, hold on. I’m sure loads of biographies have all that stuff. Maybe this is an untapped genre for me!

It just occurred to me that Dewey: The Small Town Library Cat Who Touched The World was autobiographical, and I adored it.  I hate when I prove myself wrong.

Anyhow, I have to do ten hours of writing and reading a week for this paper, which is definitely not hard, I do that anyway. And I guess you could call my blog life writing. So technically, right now, I’m doing homework. Sweeet.

I love the idea of “creative nonfiction,” which is what this whole paper is about. I’ve shied away from nonfiction in the past, but I’m getting more and more into both reading and writing it. Perhaps real life is stranger, and more interesting, than fiction! I actually think I write better when I write about real stuff too. Otherwise I lapse into clichees and drama and wanky emotional drivel. When it’s based on truth, it feels true, it feels real for me, which should be obvious but wasn’t. And hopefully when it’s real for me, it becomes real for the reader, and that’s when a writer succeeds.

The whole idea of creative nonfiction is a fascinating concept to me. For so many years I associated nonfiction with boring. How incredible that that’s not true at all!

(Cough. The Diary of Anne Frank, Dewey The Small Town Library Cat that Touched the World, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, even the Boleyn books. All based on truth and fact, if not wholey truth and fact. Am I mad or blind or both? Jeepers!)

OK, so maybe ALL people who write their autobiographies arn’t egotistical, self-obsessed weiners. Still, I’d feel like such a snob if someone came up to me at a party and said, what do you do, and I went, oh I’m writing my autobiography. Surely that would kill the conversation immediately, the other person thinking like, oh you reckon you’re so cool that everyone wants to read about you. Maybe not. But if someone said that to me, I’d have to ask them what happened in their life that made them so interesting as to warrant a book.

A whole new genre to read! I can hardly wait to get started. Except first I have to get through those course readings…

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About writehandedgirl

Sarah is a writer who is passionate about social justice, feminism, politics, and cats. She is a columnist and poet and currently lives in Nelson. You can follow Sarah on Twitter (@_writehanded_) or read more of her writing at writehanded.org

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