Journaling in Times of Uncertainty
Letters written to family members and friends during the 1918-19 Spanish Influenza pandemic provide historians with a large archive of that time period. Since so much of today’s communication happens virtually, however, historians fear that we will leave behind few written records of our individual experience. As writers living during this unusual and difficult time, we have an important role to play in history. We need to tell our stories for future generations.
In this class, we’ll talk about the role observational journalism plays in the historical record. Then we’ll explore the works of Joan Didion, Nora Ephron, and other creative nonfiction authors, allowing them to serve as guides in a practice of journaling through these difficult and uncertain times. We’ll talk about how to create journals that might one day morph into publishable works of creative nonfiction, from short essays to full-length memoirs. All writers are welcome, whether you’ve journaled your entire life or want to try it for the first time!
About the Instructor: Elizabeth West is an Associate Professor of English at Central Piedmont Community College, where she is faculty advisor of SWAG, the Student Writers Assembled Guild creative writing organization. She hosts presentations and events for Sensoria, the annual arts and literary festival at Central Piedmont each year. Elizabeth has published an essay in Chicken Soup for the Soul about her son's autism. She also maintains a blog titled "Turning Arrows into Flowers" at elizabethmwest.com. Elizabeth is currently working on a collaborative fantasy/fiction story with her students (SWAG members) for future publication.