In this post, I’m sharing some of my rough notes for part of a lecture I gave my students about autobiography/narrative, the first assignment they have in the Composition course I’m teaching at the university this semester. I could polish these notes and fine tune them, but I’ll just go ahead and let you see the middle of the night ideas I jotted down and used to develop what was hopefully a little more refined when I presented it to all three sections of this course bright and early on Monday morning. Enjoy.
There is an element all people share, regardless of any other differences: storytelling. The forms vary in oral and written traditions, and they are becoming ever growing today. Stories are all around us: in ads, blogs, newspapers, television shows, films, song lyrics and personal communications, to name a few. We experience stories every waking minute, and also in our sleep when we dream. We tell our stories, share our stories, cherish our stories. This goes back through all time, in all places. And this is something you are working on in your autobiography: you are telling a narrative. All cultural traditions have ancient mythologies that were, in one part, narratives to explain the world around them. Unfortunately, today the term “myth” has becoming synonymous with “falsehood.” However, it does not matter if the stories told in myths were something that historically happened. The truth myths hold is a psychological truth. They are stories of human experience. Your autobiography will also hold a psychological truth. In class last week you responded to a question that asked if you felt your memory was reliable. Some of you insisted on perfect memories of important events. And it certainly feels that way for all of us. On the contrary, research shows our memories are quite fallible. This does not mean your memories are false, but that each time you re-member an event, you are re-writing it. Regardless, your memories hold deep psychological truths for you. As myths did for our ancestors across the world. Furthermore, your memories, your stories, and whichever story you choose to tell in your autobiography, holds two important elements: your story is on one level profoundly personal, and on another level universal. As many of you identified in your in-class writing last week, writing your remembered event is important on both of these levels because it allows you to remember and reflect upon something important to yourself, and sharing your stories with others helps you to connect and learn from one another.
Hey everyone! Happy Friday!!! Thanks for joining me in Banned Books Week! It’s been a blast, and I’ve loved spreading the word to my students. They’ve been surprised, inspired, and intrigued.
In other events…. I made a dang rookie mistake, and I’m beating myself over the head for it!! I always tell my students that whenever they have an idea for a paper, they MUST write it down! I explain that by the time they get home and go to work with the idea, the rest of the day has probably disturbed it, and the idea may dissolve. When I was working on my master’s thesis, I always captured my ideas in some way. Sticky notes, notebook by the bed, voice mails to myself. Whatever it took. Most of us get inspiration of the most random times – in the shower, in the car, while falling asleep. And we must hold onto those ideas by jotting something down as soon as possible…
So… the other week… at some point when I was away for my monthly trip for grad school, I had a big light-bulb moment for my book on Buffy and Angel. My examination has been focusing purely on the two television series and not on the comics. However, I had an epiphany about how the comics tied into my analysis and my lens and the importance of this expansion beyond the aired series… and now?? I don’t remember the epiphany. I remember that I had it. I remember it was on this area of the comics… and I thought it was so great and perfect and I was convinced I did NOT need to write it down. I remember thinking, “I’ll never forget this!!” But by the time I listened to all the lectures on Greek Myth, Alchemy, and African Traditions, it was gone… faded… buried somewhere in my unconscious… I’ve been trying to remember, but I feel like the more I try to access it, the further I get away from it. Damn. Surely it will return, right?? Hopefully….
But, let this serve as a reminder, writers! Don’t count on remembering your brilliant moments of insight! If you’re like me, life gets in the way, you have 15 billion thoughts a day, and if it’s not written down, it’s forgotten.
I just read the article “Why You Learn More Effectively by Writing Than Typing” over at Lifehacker, and it’s really got me thinking. I definitely see the efficiency of typing (especially for me personally since I have sloppy hand writing and can type over 100 wpm), but also recognize the claim made in this article. I have heard before that writing something is equivalent to reading it three times. There’s definitely an important memory component tied in with hand writing. Also, I find there is something magical about actual pen and paper. I typically take crazy amounts of typed notes in my grad classes. I use a laptop (or, more recently, my iPad with a wireless keyboard) and nearly copy lectures verbatim. I realize the purpose in note-taking is simply to hit on important points. However, there are so many important points in the 7-8 hour lectures I attend, that I inevitably stop absorbing info at varying points in the day. I love having the detailed notes to look back at, especially if something was covered that didn’t resonate at the time but ends up tying into my research later down the road… but in my summer school class, as I mentioned at the time, our instructor told us NOT to take exhaustive notes because she would be providing us with all her notes and power points at the end of the course. I found this very freeing and enjoyed handwriting just the most important ideas that resonated with me. I can’t decide how I plan to tackle my note-taking this upcoming fall quarter. Shall I pack up the tech again, or go buy a paper notebook with an inspirational cover?
How do you take notes??