Once upon a midnight dreary…

Edgar Allan Poe
Me wishing my responsibilities would be nevermore.

Honesty hour with Maddy: I am totally freaking out. Maybe it’s because school is finally picking up, or the weather is so chilly, or the career fair is this week, or I can barely find time to think. Regardless, I really just want to curl up in a ball and hide under my covers, ignoring the perpetually loud knock of responsibility constantly tapping at my bedroom door. I mean I am basically channeling my inner Edgar Allan Poe. (Much love for the guy, but we can all agree he was a little insane.) Does anyone else feel as utterly overwhelmed as I do right now? I want to put in as much time as possible into my re-purposing project, but life happens and I am struggling to find the right balance. 

On another note, I recently (last Friday) decided to change the topic of my re-purposing project (another reason to add to the ‘Why Maddy is Freaking Out’ list). My new project is based off of a rant I wrote my freshmen year of college when I was hardcore struggling with mental health issues. The rant contains some of the purest and most truthful words I have ever written, and I thought it would be a great starting point for a re-purpose. I ultimately decided that my original re-purposing project of a fashion blog branding how-to guide was too much in my comfort zone of what I already know how to write and write about. I wanted to take a leap and try something entirely new and talk about something I don’t usually talk about: my mental health disorders. I am excited, but also slightly nervous to unveil a personal narrative where I discuss my past, present, and future with mental health. I truly believe speaking about mental health is the only way we can all break the stigma, so I am pumped to be apart of the stigma-fighting movement!

mental health stigma fighter

One of the things I am most worried about, however, is the construction of a personal narrative. Right now I find it so tricky because there has to be a balance between personal anecdotes/thoughts and creativity. My research so far has allowed me to see some interesting takes on the personal narrative, such as a poem and a blog entry. But when I think about writing something like that myself, my stomach gets all twisted and this fear of failure starts rushing in. I want my personal narrative to be authentic, yet captivating, and that’s what is so terrifying right now. I am trying to find the place within myself to muster up the courage and confidence to begin such a daunting task. However, I think this challenge will be so much more rewarding even if I do fail. I am scared, I am excited, and I am unsure. But that’s okay. I truly believe the end product will be worth all of the stress.

I guess the one major request I have for the class is to send me any and all personal narratives you have read in the past and loved. I want to gather as many useful models as possible, to hopefully build my confidence in the personal narrative genre and allow me to get started writing sooner, rather than later.

2 thoughts to “Once upon a midnight dreary…”

  1. Maddy,

    Don’t worry, you’re not alone! Last weekend I passed the airport and envisioned myself buying a ticket to somewhere far away and drifting about the world, ignoring all of my responsibilities. Being overwhelmed sucks. I totally understand the feeling of wanting to do an assignment (like our re-purposing project) really well, while fearing that devoting too much time to it will make finishing other work impossible.

    Like we talked about today in class, I think it’s fantastic that you are writing about your experience with mental health. I think your project will be great not only because it will push you to write in a style and genre you’re less familiar with, but also because it will help college students feel they are not alone in their struggles. I wonder if there’s a way that you could incorporate some research (maybe just some basic facts or figures about mental health) into your narrative? That might take away from the personal nature of the piece, so I can totally understand if you don’t want to do that, but it also might add some perspectives about the topic from a medical/research point of view. Or, if you don’t want to include anything like that in the piece itself, you could include links somewhere in the text that could lead readers to places that could provide help and advice.

    I have a personal narrative in mind that you might find helpful, but because it is a novel, you might not have time to read it before the project is due. Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar is a really beautiful and nuanced look into the mind of someone suffering from a mental health disorder, and it might give you some guidance as to how you can write about the topic. I know there is a certain stigma attached to Plath, but her novel really is fantastic and worth reading (even if not for this project).

    Stay strong! Only a couple weeks until Fall Break.

  2. (Before I begin) OMG I was going to suggest The Bell Jar too! Anything Sylvia Plath-related is worth looking into. She always does a great job of describing mental health issues in ways that are captivating like you said.

    I can completely relate to feeling like you have a hurricane of responsibility coming at you and just wanting to run away from it all. #College. But I think you’ll find this project to be less-stressful than you think because it’s so personal to you! A great way to approach the topic of mental health and make a younger audience really “get it” is through specificity and honesty. Share YOUR story.

    You also mentioned your interest in poetry. I think writing a poem is amazing. Narrative poems can definitely be intimidating, so if you’re not up for it this time around, you can always incorporate poetic elements into your writing. For example the scene, actions, and characters, can all be described with poetic language. I suggest looking at the anonymous poem you showed us in class and asking yourself what about that specific poem resonated with you?

    Here’s some Sylvia Plath quotes to hopefully inspire you 🙂

    (One of my favs)
    “I saw my life branching out before me like the green fig tree in the story. From the tip of every branch, like a fat purple fig, a wonderful future beckoned and winked. One fig was a husband and a happy home and children, and another fig was a famous poet and another fig was a brilliant professor, and another fig was Ee Gee, the amazing editor, and another fig was Europe and Africa and South America, and another fig was Constantin and Socrates and Attila and a pack of other lovers with queer names and offbeat professions, and another fig was an Olympic lady crew champion, and beyond and above these figs were many more figs I couldn’t quite make out. I saw myself sitting in the crotch of this fig tree, starving to death, just because I couldn’t make up my mind which of the figs I would choose. I wanted each and every one of them, but choosing one meant losing all the rest, and, as I sat there, unable to decide, the figs began to wrinkle and go black, and, one by one, they plopped to the ground at my feet.”

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