Challenge Journal #4: Who’s listening?

I know this isn’t the most original idea for a challenge, but I don’t think that makes it any less important or true or valuable for me to reflect upon. For some, writing about ourselves can be difficult. I constantly write about my life—I actually first fell in love with writing when I discovered the way that writing my thoughts down actually really allowed me to work through internal conflicts and figure out what’s going on inside of my own mind. For that reason, I suppose I have never been part of that “some,” and writing about myself and my life hasn’t been difficult for me.

But that’s because I had only ever done so when I was my one and only audience.

Freshman year, in an introductory sociology course, I found myself, for the first time, writing about people and things I was close to from the perspective of an outsider. I had to use sociological ideas that I had learned in order to conduct an interview with my mother. As I talked to my mother about her parents’ divorce, and I prepared to write about it through this sociological lens, I soon found that I would have to write from the perspective of a student rather than a daughter.


For example:

Jodi had a simple upbringing in a home of loving parents and two siblings, but this interview instead focuses on a sociologically dense time later in her life when she was preparing to leave for college as her family fell apart. Jodi shares a captivating story that serves as lens to reveal sociological principles of evolving gender roles and issues of family.


As I enter the editing phase of my final project, I am struggling to fix my language to match the different ways that I have been trying to tell my story. As in my sociology project, I am writing about events in my life to an audience that reaches beyond my own brain. Some pages do still sound like diary entries, and others sound like nothing I’ve ever written before. I can’t include too much personal emotion because this is a project that only demands emotion and reflection in some of its parts, but where, in my revelations, do I compromise revealing myself in order to best inform my audience in a way that achieves my project’s goals?

2 thoughts to “Challenge Journal #4: Who’s listening?”

  1. Allison,

    I find myself with a somewhat similar problem. I’m trying to talk about speechwriting to an audience of both politicos and not, so trying to balance the phrasing with diction/terms both parties would understand and be engaged with is challenging. I also think trying to incorporate my own voice into this project has proved to be more difficult than what I had originally intended.

  2. Ally,

    I too find myself in a similar predicament. In my Capstone project, I am creating a collection of personal essays that more often than not closely relates to that of diary entries. I wouldn’t necessarily say that was intentional but more like something out of habit that often occurs with my particular style of writing. Like you, I also fell in love with writing when I least expected it. I was going through a difficult personal time and frankly couldn’t talk about it. What I have come to find through reading other essay collections is that sometimes first person language is in fact the most powerful. When some writers write for the sake of writing for themselves it can often prove to be more powerful in capturing the readers attention. Perhaps you don’t even need to think to much about fixing your language to speak to others.


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