On Writing a Life
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For the creative writing portion of this thesis, I wrote a series of nonfiction pieces in the first person. Instead of covering any period of time comprehensively, they are fragments from a life, featuring, among other things, mental illness, friendship, the aftermath of abuse, treatment, suicide, natural philosophy, religion, a loss of faith, and that which is greater than ourselves. In the treatise portion of this thesis, the section titled “On Writing a Life,” I consider what it means and what it takes to turn a life into words on a page. I explain my own relationship to writing and how for me it springs from the journaling I have done over the past decade. I examine the relationship between audience and a writer’s craft. I consider whether life is or is not a story, and if it is not, what that means for us who write about our lives. I also consider the ways in which reality as it is experienced conflicts with the ways in which we represent that reality through words, and I look at some of the ways in which the process of crafting a narrative and telling a story are in some respects artificial and might actually push us further from the really real of life. In the end, I reflect on the degree to which all we might write, in any form, mode, or voice, says something about us, and as such, I broaden my understanding of life-writing to include any form of writing we might wish to write and call it so. We need only claim it.