For five weesk both my first year writing students and the Just Write virtual writing group focused on the simple idea “What If.” Our What If work was inspired by Marvel’s What If animated series and the butterfly effect combined with the explorations offered by the #WalkMyWorld Project. The five-week journey for the writers in my care culminated in a multi-genre exploration of their personal values and how those values were developed (a primary focus of our American literacy themed class). This invitation explores the ideas we used to guide the work of creating those multi-genre projects.
We began this work by staking our claims exploring what we thought about, discussed, and wrote about our origins, major influences, and future:
- Who Are You?
- Where Are You From?
- What is the Shape of Your Story?
- What is your reason for being?
- What is the soundtrack of your life?
We considered our story and then contemplated what that story tells us about America and American values while also uncovering the mood and tone we wanted to use for our multi-genre pieces. We thought about the order and organization of these projects as well as the connective tissue, the chorus or refrain, we might use to make something whole out of the disparate parts of our story. We drew inspiration from our study of Carrie Underwood‘s Love Wins and Bill Winters‘ Lean On Me. We also examined the Haudenosaunee Thanksgiving Address used by the six nations of the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) to open and close major gatherings or meetings as well as greeting or ending the day. Considering the chant of “Now our minds are one” invoked the power of refrains to connect a story.
We also wrote in response to one final poem. Using Not My Ancestors by Bettina Judd to remind ourselves that a powerful ending can lock in the power of an individual story.
What story do you want to tell with the artifacts you have accumulated along your own What If journey? The important thing is to reflect, write, and create something that tells your story even if the only audience is yourself.