Writing Your Self

Overview

Writing Your Self is a comprehensive resource for anyone who wants to explore personal material in their writing. It examines how many writers use personal subject matter in memoirs, poems, jourbanals and novels.

Part One focuses on universal experiences including childhood, identity, adult relationships and loss as well as more specific issues such as displacement and disability, physical and mental illness and abuse. Throughout the book writers, including the authors, give ...

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Overview

Writing Your Self is a comprehensive resource for anyone who wants to explore personal material in their writing. It examines how many writers use personal subject matter in memoirs, poems, jourbanals and novels.

Part One focuses on universal experiences including childhood, identity, adult relationships and loss as well as more specific issues such as displacement and disability, physical and mental illness and abuse. Throughout the book writers, including the authors, give frank, firsthand accounts of their own experiences and how they have tackled writing about them. 

Part Two begins with a series of techniques for approaching personal material which include practical exercises and examples. It also considers the differences between raw and finished writing and the validity of each and offers ideas for developing work.

With its wide range of writers and the exciting possibilities it offers, Writing Your Self is a definitive book for exploring personal literature and life writing.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781847062529
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Academic
  • Publication date: 1/7/2010
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 270
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Myra Schneider is a poet and tutor for The Poetry School in London, UK. She is author of Writing My Way Through Cancer (Jessica Kingsley, 2003) and Writing for Self-Discovery (with John Killick, Element Books, 1998).

John Killick has been a teacher and education officer in prisons and more recently has worked with people with dementia. He is a poet and literary journalist.

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Table of Contents

Introduction
Part I
1. Childhood and Relationships with Parents
2. Identity
3. Adult Relationships
4. Abuse
5. Displacement and Disability
6. Illness
7. Mental Illness
8. Caring and Coping
9. Loss
10. Facing Death
11. Spirituality
Part II
12.Getting Started, Image Exploration and Basic Techniques
13. Accessing Memories, Secret Letters, Monologues and Dialogues, Visualizations
14. Fictionalizing, Transforming Personal Material, Dreams, Drawing as a Starting Point
15. Keeping a Journal, Writing a Memoir, Shaping Work
16. Finishing Work Conclusion Bibliography Notes about Contributors Acknowledgements Index

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  • Posted February 6, 2010

    A Useful and Moving Book

    Anyone who has ever found themselves unable to express their feelings should turn to this superb book for help. This book responds with equal force and usefulness to whatever level of writing sophistication and ambition you bring to it - that places this work head and shoulders above its competition. The varied backgrounds of both authors in different areas of teaching, creative work and achievement, and their shared interest in therapy and therapeutic writing, makes possible this unusual range.

    A key element of the authors' approach are firsthand accounts by Killick and Schneider of bringing difficult material to light and giving it shape, which set the book's direction and show their approach to its subject matter and material. These are enhanced by 21 additional striking firsthand contributions by others written for this book. Quoted material from a variety of authors like Elizabeth Bishop or Janet Frame add to the firsthand accounts. All major areas of the English speaking world are represented.

    This is also an unexpectedly moving book. As Part I moves from the troubled issues of childhood to old age it evokes the feeling of encountering a single Everyman/woman struggling with the difficulties of the human condition. The last chapter on spirituality in Part I reinforces this by moving beyond exploring the self to the wider reality in which we live and find or create answers to the great mysteries of life.

    Part I covers childhood, identity, adult relationships, abuse, displacement and disability, illness, mental illness, caring and coping, loss, facing death, and spirituality. In Identity Mark Doty asks in Identity how "making sustains", for his ability to be a writer and explore his sexual identity in his memoir saved his life; in Illness, Oliver Sacks intuits our living flesh is "solid music" as he explores how he came back to life after an injury, while Miriam Hastings contributes a firsthand account in Mental Illness that points out the simple act of creation is therapeutic in itself. Being able to respond creatively to experience helps makes us well. In the same chapter Clare Shaw in another striking firsthand account speaks of writing so she can know who she is, and that writing of a painful experience gives her control over it for that time. Words are the mirror we hold up to ourselves. Jocelyn Hurndall in Loss realizes through writing about the death of her son that "What will survive us is love", and is finally able to come to terms with her grief. Barbara Feldt, in Facing Death finds as she wrestles with mortality that "I am pregnant with words": creation, and love, are our deepest responses to death. Mary Macrae's firsthand account in Spirituality explores how poetry allowed her to give voice to the spiritual.

    Part II explores getting in touch with your immediate experience and how to tap your unconscious. Flow-writing is a useful technique explored here; subsequent sections explore the use of memory, expressing feelings in short but useful ways, and fictionalization. Using dreams and visualizations are reviewed, and journals, shaping our initial raw material into coherent works, and the need to structure and persevere in the creation of increasingly long and complex works.

    The end result allows writers to "transform their personal into the universal"; success in 'writing your self' leads us past the self into the wider world we all seek to enjoy, endure, and share with those we love.

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