Where Light Doesn’t Die: An Interactive Personal Essay

As of the spring of my senior year, I’ve taken three classes (intro to creative writing, nonfiction writing, and a senior seminar in nonfiction) with Professor Colin Rafferty, UMW’s creative nonfiction professor, and three with Dr. Zach Whalen, UMW’s electronic literature expert. For Dr. Whalen’s Spring 2021 Electronic Literature class, I combined what I loved about the two disciplines to write a hypertext memoir essay using Twine about my 2019 visit to St. Petersburg, Russia.

The nonfiction memoir is one of my favorite forms of creative writing, and connecting it to hypertext felt like a natural step; than any other kind of creative form I can think of, memory resembles hypertext. Rather than following a narrative, memory exists in the form of shorthands, connected stories, words or phrases that automatically conjure an image. In this case, my memoir is about memory itself, the ways we hold onto it and the ways in which it’s lost to us. In replicating this experience, I tried to naturally work off of the associations I made between words – if a word or phrase made me think of another event, I tried to link it right away– and thus tried to present a nonfiction essay presented in order of the connections that the reader is most curious about, rather than those arranged by an author.

Play it below:

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