As I shakily alluded to in class, I went through a last minute project change. I started with a super broad idea of asking activists what freedom means to them, and after meeting with Shelley narrowed it down to the IGR program and asking whether we can use the master’s tools to dismantle the master’s house through ethnography. After two weeks of intensely procrastinating starting my research and hearing what fun projects others in our class are doing, I realized that I didn’t want to do this. So after some inner searching and talking with Shelley, I have now decided to write a memoir about an internal conflict I’m going through in my real life right now: wanting to leave a community that I’ve spent most of my life with as a person who has changed and possibly grown out of it.
Although I’m much more excited by this project than my previously planned one, I also have several qualms about it. Firstly, I’m terrified to dive into something so personal and intimate in a pretty public space. One of the best (and arguably necessary) parts of writing is its power to illuminate and complicate reality, both as a writer during the process and as a reader after its completion. Even while believing this, it scares me to think that people from our class and potentially future Capstone students will have access to my deeply personal narrative. For this qualm, I would honestly just love a few words of encouragement to help me be brave.
A more technical challenge I’m having is trying to figure out the structure of my memoir. The easiest thing would be to write chronologically about the communities I’ve been a part of throughout my life and who I was at those times, leading into my current situation. However, I’m feeling ambitious to explore non-chronological narrative structures if it’ll help me work through my conflict and truthfully share my story. Last year in English 325, I wrote a narrative piece about gaining my US citizenship: I used the court ceremony as the main event and incorporated thoughts about the entire immigration system and experiences of being a person of color in America throughout the small instances of the day. This is one of the pieces I’m most proud of having written in college so I want to do something similar, but I don’t have any specific event to tie my thoughts back to. It would help if anyone can think of narrative structures that could be useful for my subject, or if anyone even just has examples of memoirs or narratives that they particularly enjoyed that utilize a non-chronological structure.