Is All Writing Autobiographic?

School has started again, huzzah! That means I get to stop researching random topics to write about in this blog and instead I get to write about topics my teachers have pre-selected and have my write about anyway.

For my expository writing class, we are reading an article by Donald M. Murray titled “All Writing is Autobiography.”

When I first read the title of this article, I disagreed with the sentiment I thought would be within the work. When I see the term “Autobiography” I think of the Merriam-Webster definition, “the biography of a person narrated by himself or herself.” I write, like the author, in various different forms such as poetry, short story, academic essays, and have even ghost written a few teen supernatural romance fiction books (English majors need money in the summer too).

Ah yes, Fabio. We meet for the first time.

As I read past the title, I started to change my mind. The way Murray uses autobiographic is the way I would use the word presence for he states, “I have my own peculiar way of looking at the world and my own way of using language to communicate what I see” (67). Every work a writer writes is part of their presence within the piece – whether it is their style through their diction choices or the way they structure their writing or the very perception and interpretation of the material presented created from the writer’s unique viewpoint created by past and present experiences.

Murray states, “We become what we write. That is one of the great magics of writing” (70). I take these lines to mean that even if it was unknown to the writer before they wrote it, after they have worked on the piece it becomes a part of them. Everything a writer writes is forever linked to them and even if it was something unfamiliar, like the realm of teen supernatural romances, it (fortunately or unfortunately) becomes a part of the writer’s experience and therefore is integrated into the writer’s world view and how they express themselves in it.

I feel this was important for Murray to address in his work because he wants to share his understanding and knowledge not only of his own writing process and how he draws on his personal experience in all the work he does, but to show that everything a writer writes will become a part of them once the project is finished, even if it is a work of imagination. Murray expresses this point in stating, “The poem that was for a few seconds imaginary has become autobiographical by being written” (70). Everything a writer touches shapes that writer’s experience of the world and becomes a part of the writer’s presence in future pieces, or, as Murray would state, part of the writer’s autobiography.

I invite everyone to read the article as well and let me know what you think. I especially like the last line of the essay which states that, “all reading is autobiographical” as well. Post your thoughts, opinions, agreements or disagreements below and let’s start a discussion!
– Amanda Riggle


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