Papers from the "Pilgrimages and Idle Travels" course on memoirs and travel writing.
I had taken Honors 345: The Triggering Town with Frances during spring of my freshman year, so I had already satisfied UW's composition requirement as well as Honors's Interdisciplinary coursework requirement. In fact, when I took this class, I only needed to take an Honors Social Science credit to complete my Honors degree. But this class looked so intriguing and so wonderful that I decided to take it anyway. Unsurprisingly, I enjoyed this class very much. I loved being given the opportunity to write creatively in an academic context, and the allotted time to write about my past experiences was much needed come the dreariness of winter quarter. Attached below are my midterm and final papers, respectively, with some comments on both.
Even though this class was about travel writing, I knew I didn't want to write about any of the actual travels I had done in my life. To me, the biggest reflections spur from normalized events, and diving deeper into the metaphorical resonances of these events are what leads to insight and transcendence. For my midterm paper, I wrote about driving through my hometown with an unnamed driver and reflecting on the memories the narrator had in contrast to the feelings the driver had about the town. (Spoiler: the unnamed driver is a past version of myself, and the narrator a present day version of myself. I feel distinctly different from who I was in high school, and I wanted to explore that dissociation in this paper.)
One of the most interesting insights this class gave me was how malleable truth can be. For example, almost half of my final paper is fabricated. Of course I don't know the intricate details of my ancestors' lives, and of course I've embellished some facts about my family-- all for the purpose of advancing and investigating my central theme. But these things are all still true, right? The details might be false, but the intentions are true. I think one of my main barriers to writing (especially poetry) has been worrying about only writing about things that actually happened. As such, I struggled with writing some of the first papers for this class because I was so concerned with sticking to the unadulterated truth. Eventually, that worry subsided and I was really happy with my final paper and the way I contorted the truth while still being true to my purpose.