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Record Type: Review   ID: 96

A Voice of Her Own: Women and the Journal-Writing Journey

Schiwy, Marlene A.

 This book is not simply about women’s journal writing. It is about women becoming aware of their own identities, creating themselves as they write to and about themselves. Schiwy, herself a diarist of 30+ years, proposes that at about the age of 11 many young girls begin diaries as a way of finding or fashioning or perserving their own individual voice in a world that has already cast them in a particular role. In writing about the process of women’s writing, Schiwy explores the process of being a woman in a still largely patriarchal world. For example, women writers tend to reflect their own inner process of discovery, which is not linear but spiralic. The same is true of this book. Part One consists of three introductory chapters, including "Getting Started." The Inner Journey is the subject of Part Two, which in 9 chapters composes the bulk of the book. Schiwy points out that each chapter can stand on its own so the reader may start reading anywhere. That Schiwy takes a depth approach to women’s journal writing is evident from the chapter titles in this section: "Writing Below the Surface," "Healing Dimensions of the Journal"; "Reinventing the Self"; "Dreams and Other Exceptional Experiences," "This Drama of the Process: Journal Writing and Creativity; Writing for Your Life: Further Suggestions for the Journey"; "The Pleasure of Reading Journals," "Hearing One Another to Speech"; The Journal Workshop; and "A Voice of Her Own." For years Schiwy has led a journal workshop, which adds another dimension to this book as she not only uses some of the participants as examples, but many of her ideas were found or explored in the workshop milieu. In a "Postlude" she relates a synchronicity involving the completion of this book and simultaneously, the same thing occurred in another room where her husband Steve was at work. Both had independently used the word "fugue" to describe the process. This was not only the capstone for her completed book, but also launced her on further work as the spiral continues. In an Appendix, she provides "Topics to Accompany Chapters 4-9." She touches on exceptional human experiences and journal writing in two places. The journal is an indispensable tool for persons who have had exceptional experiences. It is a safe place to seek for the meaning of such experiences, and to work out ways of incorporating them into one’s identity, life, and world. So only can it flower into an exceptional human experience.
Publisher Information:New York: Simon & Schuster, 1996. 380p. Bibl: 357-364; Chap. notes: 320-355; Index: 365-380
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