Hide and seek

(Photo Credit: Theresa Lower)

This class falls under the Written Inquiry designation.

We write to question.

We get on our hands and knees and dig deep and if we read the signs we notice that we’ve never been guaranteed that the search will uncover definitive answers.  In the same way that we’ve been able to keep watching “How I Met Your Mother” and at some point become comfortable with the possibility that Ted will never disclose the mother of the two children sitting on the couch in the year 2030, we’ve finally settled into the reality that composing self is not something you cross off a to-do list. Well, unless you’re speaking of Composing Self in the proper noun sense of a class and then certainly you’re about ready to finish this thing.

I embrace the unfinished business of composing self because there’s great energy and urgency at a cliff’s edge. I’m reminded of this particularly at the end of the semester as I read student comments:

Throughout the semester, I’ve been able to compose my idea of self. I will carry that through into my final blog and will infuse ideas found in literature, religion, medicine, and other aspects of the outside world. I learned that integrating personal stories with facts and research creates balanced, trustworthy nonfiction.

You’ll learn a lot about yourself and your self and the self and how to use words and it will be really great even if you leave the class and realize that you no longer have any idea what the word “self” means.

Yet, no matter how much study we do about self, a concrete definition of self still eludes me. Perhaps I am looking for too much of a solid, dictionary definition and am unsatisfied that my own definition is still a little unclear or unofficial.

So writers, here’s the big secret I didn’t tell you in January.  I never promised you a definitive self. I did offer you books and films, articles and lectures, writing assignments and talking time to help you test theories of what a self is and why a writer might choose to present a certain authorial self.  But you’ve got to take it home from here.  Go out on the ledge. Look deep into the canyon.  Go on. Compose a self. There’s nothing to lose, but your voice.

(Photo credit: Catherine Keefe)

About Catherine Keefe

Catherine Keefe is the founding and managing editor of *dirtcakes* a journal of poetry, creative nonfiction, art and photography. Her creative nonfiction essays, interviews and book reviews have appeared nationally. She teaches undergraduates how to Write About Literature, or Write Creative Nonfiction, or Compose Self at Chapman University in Orange, CA.
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