Living Out a Story

The topic of my repurposing project is telling a life story.

To tell my life story, I plan on repurposing an alma mater that I co-authored this summer into an outline for a synopsis of major vivid events occurring in my past 19 years of living.  My goal is to create a reflective piece that will stand as a reminder of things in my life that I am afraid I will forget as time passes.

When I first searched for examples of people telling their life stories through different types of media, I came across a website called “My Life Story: A Diary for a Whole Lifetime of Memories”.  This site is based out of the United Kingdom and it sells 1080 page diaries for around 60$.  Part of the catch is that you can buy one for someone who isn’t capable of recording their own life yet, so you can start it for them.  For example, you can purchase one for your newborn child and keep a record of their firsts until a time when the child is capable of recording their own life in the diary.  As I read through their pitch, all I was thinking was “wow I wish my parents had bought me one of those when I was a child!”  If I had recorded my life events up until now, I wouldn’t have to rely on my memory to conduct this project.  But through using my memories now, I can create a reflective diary; one that I will be able to look on for years in the future and be reminded of things, just as I would have been if I had started the diary 15 years ago.  Now is the perfect time to make this all happen.

The second thing I came across was “My Life Story” written by Gordon Dioxide. Gordon is an enticing author.  He comes across as a witty and funny guy, and he was able to turn his rather average and long life into an interesting story. Here is the  LINK to check out his work.

Rhetorical Map of Gordon’s “My Life Story”

Composer: Gordon Dioxide

Subject: An arbitrary run-through of Gordon’s progression of age while attempting to get a job

Audience: Anyone who likes a good laugh.  Especially good for readers on a lunch break or someone who has some extra time for a quick read while commuting throughout the day.

Genre/Medium: Comical Fiction or article in magazine 

Context: A reflective piece written by a man at the end of his life.  He has nothing to loose.  This is something his kids and grandkids can read over to remember his charm and dry humor.

Exigence: The motive of writing was to give people something to remember him by.  Not something that necessarily outlines his life, but something that captures his personality.

Constraints: He was constrained to writing something that would be catchy but not too lengthy so that the reader wouldn’t overanalyze it, but rather accept it for what it is.


Gordon writes as if he has no major topic to write about, where as in this LINK, you will find text about a memoir written by a director named Ruby Yang who has a long and vivid story to tell.  Gordon writes about his life in a way that makes it sound so simple and average, but Yang explains life as her protagonists overcome adversity.

I hope to strike somewhere in the middle of these two extremes when writing my memoir but I still want to maintain the same effect.  I want to move my audience in the same ways that I was moved by Gordon and Yang’s pieces.

Caroline Petersen

Caroline is a contributing writer to the Sweetland Minor in Writing Blog. She is an architect in training and spends a lot of her time sipping on cappuccinos and discussing elements of malfunctioning building features. She is a city girl who spent her elementary summers in the middle of Iowa at her aunt and uncles farm. She is a woman of many (unusual) facets that are traditionally fairly useless.

2 thoughts to “Living Out a Story”

  1. Caroline,

    As I told you in class on Tuesday, I am really excited to see your project pan out. I really like the idea, but more so, I really enjoy hearing you speak about the topic; this is clearly very important to you and it shows when you speak or write about the topic. Memory is a super weird and scary topic, and something I have had moments of deep reflection about during my life as well. Long term memory and short term memory can be stressful for different reasons, and equally confusing to understand, but they both serve to really influence the ways in which we view our worlds, and the ways in which we choose to conduct ourselves. You will write this piece and hopefully feel a sense of pride, satisfaction, and closeness to the entirety of your life, as you have achieved the task of remembrance and reflection. You will still look back, and can always do so at different junctures of your life, and have totally different connections or feelings about the piece, depending on where life has taken you and recent events at the time at which you look back! Crazy thoughts. I like that you found two pieces of interest to you, but as your writing partner, I will challenge you further! Memories are fragile because there are different ways to remember, and different ways to forget, and memories are interconnected to so many emotions. In looking back, you will have to be nostalgic and reflective, but also have a certain emotional drive when putting these reflections down onto paper. I think if you do this without pre-consideration – without considering whether your life has been grand or average – it will come off as simply an honest piece, but will also inevitably include the length and vividness of your story too. I am excited to read and to help with the process if I can.

  2. Caroline,

    This seems like an excellent idea for a project, and frankly one that I wish I’d thought up first. After all, how many times do we look back in time and wish that we’d taken steps toward preserving our memories sooner? Each time we do that, the absolute best time to do so is in the present, but speaking at least for myself, I know I’ve never been able to conjure up the motivation to actually do anything about that desire. This project is the perfect platform to provoke such writing. My biggest question for you is, how will you reconcile the diary-esque nature of your work with a genre directed towards a specific audience? After all, diaries (even if they may eventually be read) are intended for one reader only, a role shared by the author of the work. I will be interested to see how you warp your rhetoric from a classic diary style to one aimed towards an audience of 1<. On a more minor note, I'm very much looking forward to seeing how you connect the alma mater you wrote (however tangential that connection may be) to the final work. But as I said, I think it's a great idea, and I'm looking forward to working with you on it as time goes on!


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