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We tend to assume that life stories, in mentally healthy people, are concrete things, assembled from events that are hard to twist or distort. Yet all of us shape our own stories in ways we can’t always see. At The Atlantic, Julie Beck explores the idea that life stories, as we construct them, form integral parts of our personalities.
"I wanted to offer my students an alternative to the purely confessional mode. I wanted them to write about themselves without falling into a paralyzingly portentous tone. I wanted more humor in their work, more complexity, more detail, more balance—more good writing. I wanted fewer italicized passages, less use of the breathless present tense. I wanted no more tears in the workshop, no more embarrassing scenes." Emily Fox Gordon writes about trauma narratives in the classroom, the trouble with writing as therapy, and the key differences between confessing and confiding in an essay for The American Scholar.