Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Writing = Autobiography

“I do not think we should move away from personal or reflective narrative in composition courses, but closer to it; I do not think we should limit reflective narrative to a single genre; I do not think we should make sure our students write on many different subjects, but that they write and rewrite in pursuit of those few subjects which obsess them.” (Murray, 73)

All writing is autobiographical—something I have to work on fully embracing that Donald Murray addresses in his article, “All Writing is Autobiography.” Through college and now teaching high school, I never really considered how much writing is autobiographical. Most of the writing and reflecting done both in and out of the classroom requires the students to ponder their experiences or consider how they were impacted.

The question is “why am I having a hard time accepting this fact?” The truth: my brain automatically jumps to memoir writing, which is not my favorite genre to write in. However, I DO know that personal writing is not only memoirs. It is journaling, writing a poem, updating a status on Facebook, along with millions of other things. My brain just has a hard time wrapping around the idea of personal writing being more than a memoir.

As I look at my own life, I realize how much my writing is autobiographical. This piece that I am writing, right now, for this blog is autobiographical. The comment I put on my friend’s Facebook wall was autobiographical. The text I sent to my mom was autobiographical. The e-mail I sent to a professor was autobiographical. The lesson I constructed and just taught my students was autobiographical. Autobiographical does not mean telling my whole life story; it is about using a personal experience as a form of expression.

So, after having an internal (yet public) discussion regarding Donald Murray’s argument that all writing is autobiography, I have found myself agreeing. Even though it will take some time getting used to this idea, I now realize how much it applies to my life and the lives of others around me.

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