23. When Is The Right Time To Tell Our Own Stories?
I read a great article on The Players' Tribune by elite soccer athlete Christie Rampone called "This Is 40". She raises great points about growing older, being a mom and wife as well as a leader to other women. While I am not an athlete, nor a mom, I am turning 38 this year and I am a leader in my work community. I forwarded the article on to one of my Juniors who plays four varsity sports, has had numerous internships in the tech industry over the last three years and maintains an extremely high GPA. In the subject line line of the email I simply put: "Great Article". About 3 hours later I got a reply: "Yes. It is." I know that sharing stories of strong women who are exemplars for new generations is an important part of being an educator.
I began a class two weeks ago on memoir writing. I had immersed myself this past year in the creation of a curriculum for Advance Placement Language and Composition, a College Board approved course that I taught to 11th graders this past year. It is all about rhetoric and learning to read and be critical of nonfiction. It challenged me to think about audience and purpose, diction and syntax. As I have begun the writing process of crafting what I hope will ultimately become a publishable memoir I find that I am thinking more than ever about not just what I am saying but how I say it. However the larger question that I keep coming back to is, When IS the right time to tell our own stories?
One of the first memoirs I remember reading was Me: Stories of My Life by Katherine Hepburn when I was in 8th grade. My drama teacher that year had worked with the Great Kate on set in the year prior and I was in awe that my teacher had met this amazing woman. Hepburn's work was more autobiographical than memoir- but it was focused on her 60 year career. I love memoir because they are focused on a smaller period of time or aspect of life. As a teacher, one of my favorites is Hole In My Life by Jack Gantos it is focused and intimate, personal and vivid. My students have loved it and connect with his experience. Have I had enough experience to craft a memoir that will resonate with an audience? I think the last 4 years have done just that. The question then becomes, have I done enough reflection and do I have enough distance to tell a story that is not about therapy and is about telling a great story. Time will tell. Maybe by the time I am 40.