Seven Word Autobiography

This week we had the Whistler Writers Group annual general meeting. I try not to make this too formal an event. I left the boardroom years ago and don’t intend to recreate it in my artistic world. Yet, we went through some formalities just the same because, as the group has developed and received further funding, expectations on us have also grown. Suddenly others are noticing.

So some decorum must be followed. Still, any of our meetings (formal or not) involve food and drink and usually a writing exercise.

Just so everyone is clear: I hate writing exercises. I can’t pull words out of a hat. I’m not a magician. I have to think and rethink. And this takes a lot more energy and time than the ten minutes usually allotted for these things. I know others love the exercises, but again, I HATE them. Okay, I’m glad that’s off my chest.

One of the members of our group graciously agreed to lead the writing exercise. There was giddiness in the air as members grabbed a piece of paper and sat pencil in hand in anticipation as enthusiastic and wide-eyed as kindergarten pupils. Everyone was excited except the sour puss in the back. Oh, wait, that was me.

In the writing exercise, Mary challenged us to write a seven word autobiography fashioned somewhat on Live, the interesting discussion series organized by the New York Public Library.

I sat around for the first eight minutes wondering why I put myself in these situations. Then I muttered when it was my turn to talk. Damaged Is My Favourite Type of Person. Why would I say such a thing? I guess I believe we’re all damaged in some way and my need to fix others and myself is so engrained. It’s one of the reasons I’m enamoured with people in general. They fascinate me.

The other autobiography I came up with was: Dreamer, Planner, Juggler, Pushy Broad, Easy to Weep. Okay, so that’s more than seven words.

The exercise stuck with me that night (as if I needed another reason not to sleep). The ‘I wish I would have said’ scenarios played through my head. Here are a few:

Attracted to Damaged Goods, Purpose to Heal

I Am a Contradiction From Start to Finish

Human Being: Daughter, Wife, Mother, Grandmother, Writer, and Planner/Organizer

When I told another friend of mine about this exercise, she said look at yourself as others see you and preceded to give me these words: curious, giving, exacting, diligent, kind, inspiring and lover of good food.

I told her that I thought these words described her well. She countered with: “Those seven words were you! I know, we're simply reflections of those around us.”

Joan Didion said in the Live discussion she was involved in, “seven words do not yet define me.”  She has a point, but it’s a worthy exercise just the same. Now there’s a first. I have never said those words about a writing exercise before.

And in thinking about it again and again, I’ve come up with another autobiography. A short one. Lucky! Why? You ask. Well, I’m fortunate to have family, friends work and a community I love. And I’m lucky to have people who make me do writing exercises that expand and challenge me.  

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