Writing 101: Memories and Society
Instructor: Leslie Maxwell
At my rather competitive high school in a Seattle suburban satellite, I wrote often about history, literature, and humanity broadly, but never about myself. Come time to select my first college courses, Leslie Maxwell’s Writing 101 course, Memoirs and Society, called to me immediately as a way to do so. Professor Maxwell’s welcoming teaching mode and the opportunity to synthesize experiences and societal issues became not just an essential tool but a lifeline as I processed my life in real time. I chose to write about my tryst with Anorexia because it truly haunts me almost every moment of my life, even almost two years after my hospitalization. I hope that this piece can serve as more than an informational pamphlet that’s handed to scared young girls perched at the precipice of recovery. I hope my personification of Anorexia and how I shrugged him off will tug at the innermost thoughts, the ones you think are nestled deep within but are actually symptoms of a common disorder, for at least a few other people. This story has sadly been heard many times before, so I wanted to write my piece in a way that was as unique as my experience. I’m grateful for the support I had for my choices, and I hope Anorexia’s control is made comprehensible and tangible for every reader throughout the text.
I am still uncomfortable admitting that I had an eating disorder to others and even writing these paragraphs for Deliberations, but somehow I never felt judged in Writing 101. Freewriting, organizing my thoughts, peer reviewing, and adding sources in a graduated process allowed me to forge a real story out of my memories, which had always begged to be written about. I didn’t know where to start--didn’t know which aspect of the complex, tangled mess that is an eating disorder was most important--so I started chronologically. Analyzing something so personal, as both a sufferer and an outsider, helped me, in the end, feel more free. Something academic, it seemed, could actually aid me personally.
I extend my gratitude to Dr. Sheryl for her brilliant edits, Professor Maxwell for her encouragement and for always offering a welcoming space, my parents without whom there would be no story to tell, Nini, who was always there, and Sophie Zhu, an effervescent mind who was my first and only outside pair of eyes during the writing process.