Re-Authoring Map

OK, we’re ready to tackle Re-Authoring now.

Whilst many narrative conversations try to make opportunities for interviewees to generally review, edit and re-shape the stories of their lives, this map provides a specific structure for doing this.

Again, it’s used in the service of rich story development of a preferred action but this map is principally a map of time, and takes interviewees from distant or remote history through recent history, from the present time and to the near future in aspects of both actions and identity. It has at least seven distinct areas of inquiry, depending on how many points in history the conversation visits.

Chapter 2, “Re-authoring Conversations”, is detailed and unpacks several transcripts of conversations so that particular questions and movements through the map are shown to be intentional and rendered transparent.

Look at the video which features a further and connected interview with Holly and a recent development in her life. Notice how the Re-Authoring and Actions to Identity maps provide overlap and mutual support, reinforcing the significance of the story and the meaning-making going on.

What do you think of it? Let me know – you know where to do this!

A Response to Holly from Manja Visschedijk

Dear Holly,

I recently watched the two interviews you participated in with Mark Hayward and your contributions sparked some thoughts for me about communications between people. Maybe next time we find ourselves in the same place at the same time, we could have a chat about this topic. Or not 😊 (I use ‘or not’, to let people know they always have a choice, and I am always fine when people say ‘no. It’s my hope that these kinds of communication paddings might contribute to a shift towards normalising ‘consent culture’). 

Reading that last (bracketed) sentence made me smile because of a similarity to the practices of using ‘padding’ you spoke about, to bring respect and softness into interpersonal communication. I share a preference for these kinds of communication. I have also, over the course of the years, come to similar conclusions as you did in the reauthoring map video, about making considered decisions for when and where to use ‘padding’. When and where to write or speak with more authority and confidence, and especially in the face of gendered put downs!

I could also relate to your use of ‘padding’ as a way to protect against those kinds of misogynist practices. The image of the American footballer was very apt. I couldn’t help thinking, when you told that story about the violence against women and non-binary people which underpins dominant gender power relations and I wondered whether you would consider what happened in that story as part of the spectrum of gendered violence? Maybe on a par with trolling, stalking, belittling, ignoring or interrupting behaviours? Or not?

I would have liked to hear more of your thoughts about the complexities of ‘padded’ communications. It seemed to me you were using padding for multiple purposes in the course of communications with the ‘difficult client’ you encountered in your business… I was intrigued by the way you seemed to be switching between a number of different practices under the umbrella of ‘padded communication’: Sheltering yourself from others words; sheltering others from any potential hurt in your words; and also as a way to pass on a sense of worth and of being capable to the young people you work with. Would that be right?

Listening to you, I remembered that when I was in my twenties and thirties I became very interested in exploring gender, language and communication styles. I found the work of Robin Lakoff, and Dale Spender very interesting. Here’s a link with a very brief summary of some of the findings, which you may or may not be interested in checking out 😊 Celia Kitzinger and other feminist conversational analysts have also done further really interesting work in these realms.

Finally, I wrote out some of your words that were most significant to me:

“I would love for the kids that I teach to see that and know that that’s okay (to be self-assured). High school is notorious for not feeling okay within yourself … I’d really like for them to feel that they can be self-confident and that they are worth something and that they’re capable. I like to be a role-model for younger people and a mentor. I’d love to give them permission … and to encourage them that they are also capable.”

I really share your wish for the future generations Holly and I look forward to further conversations with you.

Thanks for making these videos with Mark!

Cheers, Manja

Re-Authoring Exercise

This exercise requires one person to do the interviewing, and one person to be interviewed.

Ask the interviewee to tell a story about something they did recently that seemed to be a good step for them. Then follow-up with these questions:

  1. What does this action say about what’s important to you, what you might want for your life or the direction you want to go in?
  2. Now tell me about something you did in the past few years that seems connected to these values.
  3. What would you say you were trying to do? What was important or valuable for you about this moment or time?
  4. When else have you done anything that reflects similar values? Describe something else you did from even further back in your life – perhaps from your childhood – that reflects a similar interest or value?
  5. What was it that you were particularly interested in back then that was behind this action and influenced you to do this? What would a keen observer – perhaps a close parent or teacher – have said this showed about the kind of person you are?
  6. As you go forward now in life what might you consider doing that is in harmony with this direction you have been taking your life in for so long?
“Good maps, like good stories, are embellished in the retelling and they change each time we return to them.”  - Huw Lewis-Jones & Brian Sibley in The Writers Map

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