Today I have finally finished my Unfamiliar Genre Project (with the exception of the possibility of a few small edits in the next few days). I feel incredibly accomplished, and (being honest) so relieved; this project was involved and intensive and pretty challenging.
When I began working on this project, I was excited to investigate genres I had never considered writing before. I knew it would be nonfiction, because all of the creative writing I had done up until this point was fiction, and all the nonfiction writing I had ever done was literary critique essays or formalist readings of texts; in other word, nothing even remotely similar to a memoir.
When I chose memoir, my excitement had started to transform into nerves; now that I had my genre, it became increasingly obvious that I would eventually have to actually write in it. That task became so daunting to me that I decided to begin drafting before I even read any memoirs; the purpose of this was to make the actual writing itself less terrifying rather than to come up with anything useful to include in my final draft.
This helped a lot; as predicted, none of those writings ended up in my final draft, but it did serve to calm me down quite a bit. My next task was to actually read memoirs, which was very valuable to me, not only in shaping ideas for what my own memoir would be like, but in leading me to discover that I actually love memoirs; they are so fun to read and incredibly interesting.
After reading several memoirs, I felt confident enough to begin drafting again, which I did with paper and pen; for me, it’s much easier to get ideas to flow from brain to pen to paper than from brain to fingers to keys. I filled eight or nine pages of a notebook and the better part of four hours before I had anything I felt strongly enough about to type, at which point I had two sentences staring at me from the computer screen.
At this point, I began to feel a little down; how on earth was I going to be able to do this? But I just kept writing; I tried to write every day, though it was more like every other day. As I wrote, I learned a lot more about who I was based on the memory I chose to write about, and a lot about my beliefs on education and the kind of teacher I want to be. It was a very eye opening experience, and the more I struggled with it, the more I was able to think about what I believed and what I wanted to communicate to the people who were going to read this. Eventually, I realized my ideas were flowing faster than I could write them.
At this point, I had found my flow with memoir writing. I was able to clearly communicate my ideas and find my style and voice, and I sat down the other day and easily finished and edited my piece until I felt it was exactly what I had been working toward all this time. This was an incredible feeling of accomplishment that was almost indescribable; I honestly didn’t think I was ever going to get to the point where I created something I would be this proud of.
So, overall, the UGP required a lot of wobbling; it was a struggle to even find what kind of pose I wanted to take in this memoir; student? teacher? something else? But I eventually found my pose, and (miraculously) was even able to find my flow. This project, though intensive and challenging and at times incredibly frustrating, led me to be a better writer, and hopefully will help me better take the pose of Teacher as Writer when the time comes.