Saturday, January 24, 2015

Adult Vulnerability

I took a creative writing class once with very interesting grading criteria. Within the rubric were many of the same things that you would find in a standard English class, but there was one interesting addition: we were to be graded on vulnerability.

Reading these essays, I was reminded of my own struggle with writing about subjects I felt uncomfortable with. Writing about those experiences, to me, meant reliving them to a certain extent; digging to find meaning that I didn’t always want to find. I felt a similar level of discomfort watching the video introductions to these essays. No one student stood out as overly comfortable presenting the content of their essay. Some chose to keep the introductions short (maybe because they were camera shy) while others had clearly rehearsed their presentation to include various highlights from their tales of insecurity and transformation. I chose to read some of the essays which touched on more vulnerable subjects. 

Reading the essays I selected gave me insight into how to effectively approach the topic of vulnerability. The most impressive account that I read was that of Mandy facer entitled “Hooked.” To be honest, I was originally drawn in by her willingness to write about a break up and a relationship that she considered emotionally abusive enough to label it as such. I have read account like this written by students before. It is a difficult thing to write an emotionally balanced account about a personal experience that has hurt us, and maybe we are not meant to approach something like that without a strong sense of bias, but I was very impressed with the clarity and precision of language used by Mandy in explaining her mental anguish over the course of her year and a half long relationship. Instead of feeling like a teenage account of a break up, there was real emotion and deep meaning to the words she wrote about her experience. I haven’t been through an experience like that in my life, but after reading her account, I can appreciate so much more the mental anguish of someone who has been through something similar.

Good writing can transform someone’s character and views. I hope in my writing to take something difficult to talk about and make it relatable to a more general audience.


  1. That interesting that your class graded on vulnerability. How did you even measure that? I agree that some of these essays did a really good job at exposing vulnerability by sharing difficult struggles in a tasteful fashion.

  2. Ditto to Hilley's question about measuring vulnerability. You talk about effectively approaching vulnerability--what exactly did you mean by that? And why do you think vulnerability attracts us so much as readers? Do you think that extends into "real life"?

  3. That's so interesting that vulnerability was part of the grade. It makes sense though. I think that would push a lot of students to write about things that they normally wouldn't feel comfortable talking about. I have found that when it's a lot easier to hide those emotions, writing it out often feels like a safe outlet.

  4. I love that you discussed vulnerability. You remember when we were talking about the problems with Mormons having cheesy writing, and we were trying to figure out how to fix it? I think the solution starts with vulnerability.