Experimenting with the Personal Narrative

I have spent the last three months getting back into writing and submitting guest posts online with some success! But, that success started to stall out when I began submitting new material. Without realizing it, I had gotten into a rut of narrating my personal experience in very much the same way. While I am still submitting guest posts largely from my own experience, I needed to begin to view that style of writing differently.

My latest piece was initially drafted during the weeks when I was struggling to make it through each hour with my son. He was crying constantly and fighting feedings and naps and everything I tried to do to soothe him. During those weeks, I really started to question whether I had what it took to be a stay-at-home-mom (SAHM). I was miserable and could not imagine a world without screeching. I survived and my son is back to being adorable and happy.

Screen Shot 2016-08-12 at 8.47.33 AM

Disclaimer: A view only obtained during nap time.

While writing it, I wasn’t ever happy with the draft as a straightforward reflection. I began thinking about my preconceptions about SAHMs and what society’s expectations are of SAHMs. We aren’t really supposed to have bad days, at least we shouldn’t complain about them. We are supposed to be grateful we stay at home, despite possibly giving up a career we love to do so. We are expected to accomplish twice as much because we are at home, while our main focus should always be taking care of children. So I changed direction and wrote a letter to SAHMs who came before me and apologized for not understanding their struggle. The letter format worked beautifully. It tied in my experience without using “I” over and over, which was refreshing.

Another piece that I worked on called “How to Have Successful Friendships: Lessons Learned From My 20s’ was met with FOUR rejections and I was heartbroken! I believed in the piece and that it should be posted somewhere. After the fourth rejection, I admitted to myself that the piece might be the problem. It was too personal:

Before Revision:

I’m easygoing, but also a little on the sensitive side. Often, I talk myself out of things that rub me the wrong way and chock it up to being oversensitive. Then, I get over it. Sometimes, however, my easy going  nature comes back to get me when I ignore red flags often enough only to wind up with a ‘friend’ who treats me like garbage because I have consistently allowed it. It is so important to have small conversations that address singular issues, instead of waiting years trying to untangle a mess of hurt feelings, misunderstandings, and tension. Sometimes that tension and anger can drive a wedge so far between two people that the damage cannot be undone.

After Revision:

If you’re easygoing, sometimes it’s difficult to establish boundaries. If you’re sensitive, you might talk yourself out of things that rub you the wrong way and chock it up to just being oversensitive. Sometimes, however, that easy going nature can come back with a vengeance if you ignore red flags often enough. Eventually, you will wind up with a ‘friend’ who treats you like garbage because you have consistently allowed it. It is so important to have small conversations that address singular issues, instead of waiting years trying to untangle a mess of hurt feelings, misunderstandings, and tension. Sometimes that tension and anger can drive a wedge so far between two people that the damage cannot be undone.

By taking out “I” again and making it a more generalized piece, it felt more like a conversation with a reader rather than me simply telling my story. The changes are small, but it worked well enough that the piece got picked up to the first site I sent it to and will go live this Thursday, August 18 on Her View From Home.

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