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Personal Narratives+Phase Autobiographies

After a few weeks of having a busted DSL and motivation to blog, I mustered up the will to blog once again. Since I had been neglecting the “Daily Life” part of this blog, and more writing-related situations entered my life, plus I have a new Internet that can actually load 360p videos fast, I can continue to write. Expect longer posts.

On to the topic: “phase autobiographies”.

To elaborate, in my Advanced Commination Arts class, our “essay” for the quarter is a phase autography. In the classroom, the definition used is “an account of a period of time that affected you”, which is basically a long-term personal narrative. (This contradicts with a few other definitions from Google, which is “is a personal story that recounts different times during your life”, but that isn’t important). Reluctance crept in at this assignment, because I don’t like writing personal narratives.

For our purposes, a “personal narrative” is one incident out of the writer’s life that has a conflict present, since this is the definition that been used at school. Time for another list, for weaker reasons to the strongest:

  • I prefer to write what I like to read, and I usually don’t read personal narratives. I read Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul but it doesn't appeal to me as much as young adult fiction.
  • I have to write about myself. I don’t want to write about myself, because it’s uncomfortable. Writing about other things is more interesting.
  • I forget details. Memories aren't perfect. Therefore, there is less to work with description-wise, so the narrative feels barer. Fabricating details is a possibility, since no one will know or mind, but it feels dishonest and wrong.
  • Nothing much happened in my life, conflict-wise. This may get fixed as I progress through life, and experience more stuff, but at this moment, there are very few incidents and events I would want to put down onto paper. First, there are the trivial incidents. Second, there is the personal stuff, some that I don’t want to share. Third, there is my Internet life, but I don’t want to explore that, and then there are the internal and long-term conflicts that can’t be put down in a personal narrative. That wipes out ninety-nine percent of everything I can write about my own life.
  • Let me repeat this again: Nothing much happened in my life, conflict-wise. I’m a happy person. For example, when my parents divorced, one of my parents took me to a new school district and a new neighborhood. I one-hundred percent didn't mind this. Not at all. Nada. I hadn’t suffered any major injuries, and the most life-threatening thing that happened to my family happened when I was four. There is my time with dealing with bullying, but no lingering hatred lasted. There is also my peril with PE, but that’s a long-term (and current) thing. Did I mention I’m a happy person? Stress and anger slide off me like butter climbing down a pole on a rainy day. Fifteen minutes after quietly steaming about something, it all goes through the kitchen strainer. So when I see other people on the forums saying their daily conflicts, I feel guilty that my life is pretty pleasant.
  • Personal narratives are probably the most limiting type of prose (see above four points), because of the limiting source material. I’d rather labor over a “55 word” story, which at least has very few limitations story-wise. And even if there are limitations (like “include a clock, a dog, and a humbug), there is still plenty to work with.


Summaries: Personal narratives are too personal and limiting. And nothing worth writing about happened to me personally.

In the past, some personal narratives either had a fabricated conflict (my first stage experience in The Nutcracker) a trivial conflict (one half of soccer—in 2nd grade), or no conflict (The Rainforest CafĂ©, really?).

So, how do I deal with my phase autography? 

Solution: Write about my first short story in elementary school.

In this case, it’s more of a retrospectively realized conflict. Back then, I was a small kid with large pipe dreams. Now I’m an average-sized teen with a large aspiration, but I’m wiser than I was back then. I tried writing a novel, and crashed and burn doing so. That story, which resides on my shelf stacked under all my old school folders and other old writing stuff, is embarrassing. Let’s say that my inexperience and my small pool of inspiration muddled it up.

I may post it one day, but not now. Right now, I’m reassuring myself that at least my story is more…refined than some of my classmates. Peer editing can be hard without flipping on critique mode.

Summary: My writing life is more interesting than most of my other life.

Hmm...what to write when talking about my short story in my “Room of Requirements” class…?