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How Stories Heal

Writing our Way to Meaning and Wholeness in the Academy


Robert J. Nash and Sydnee Viray

It is time for academics to embrace the fact that nothing is more appealing to readers – especially to our students – than personal stories with meaning-making implications that can touch all lives. No matter the age or stage in life, the personal or collective identity, everyone deals with meaning-making issues that challenge them – and others – throughout their lifetimes. And everyone we know finds that when encouraged to write their stories in the academy, they find meaning, wholeness, and healing.
How Stories Heal illustrates the value of personal narrative writing. Referring to this type of writing as the «turn to the subjective I» or to «me-search research», this is a book about Scholarly Personal Narrative (SPN) writing, actually written in an SPN style. This book will satisfy a huge need in higher education and scholarship, particularly for students who are writing undergraduate and graduate theses and doctoral dissertations; and also for junior and senior faculty who are looking to construct alternative forms of scholarship for publication.
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Part 2: The Emotional Impact of Scholarly Personal Narrative Writing from the Gut


Part 2

The Emotional Impact of Scholarly Personal Narrative

Writing from the Gut

What does it mean to write from the gut? This type of SPN writing ignites an author’s motivation to undertake a personal journey starting from the “inside” and traveling to the “outside.” But how deep inside does the scholar have to go in order to begin the journey? What will be the overall emotional impact, and the take-aways, both for the scholar and the reader? This type of soul-stirring, inside-outside writing is gutsy, because the writer must be both candid and courageous. At times, the writing will be raw. The gut-based writer must risk narrating what can sometimes be the most painful, heart-breaking self-disclosures. These disclosures are not meant to evoke pity from readers. Instead, their purpose is to show how it is possible for all of us to make meaning out of our own suffering. All of us have the capacity to live our lives as victors not victims, no matter how dire our pasts. As the SPN writer narrates the personal journey from the inside to the outside, it is possible for a radical self-transformation to occur. In the words of Viktor Frankl (2006), “…everything can be taken from a person but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way” (p. 66). In the chapters that follow in Part II, Sydnee demonstrates...

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