News | 2006 | A Listing of Values

The Passionate, Accurate Story by Carol Bly

In one of my classes, we've been discussing states of consciousness of the narrative--essentially, a question which drives your story. We've been finding that for a lot of our work, we write with similar states of consciousness for different projects. This reminded me of something I read in Carol Bly's The Passionate, Accurate Story. Bly suggests that you write out a listing of your own values to see what questions really drive you to write.

Here's a paraphrased excerpt (pp. 39-41):

Deliberate, precise consciousness-raising helps....I prefer listing one's values...because values are by definition emotional: they are how we feel about the given subject. It helps our always-mangy list the qualities of people or of life which we hold dear or which we deplore. A values listing keeps us conscious of large virtues when we can so easily get lost in small virtues....Here is the model of values listing I use. I expect it could be improved.

Values Listing: Examples

  1. Two goals or values which make life good or bearable or would if they were in operation.
  2. Two goals or values which cause injustice and suffering or lessening of joy.
  3. Two missing goals or behaviours. As a child, you thought grown-up life would have these. Now that you are adult, you don't see them around.
  4. Two injustices which you see about you and should keep an eye on, even on your wedding day.

Obviously, whichever eight values one lists one day, one might like to change next week....If the Values Listing wants amending by next week, simply write in the amendment. People who are able to write down eight serious values won't be likely to write lying or shallow literature without noticing what they're doing. Noticing may make an enormous difference.

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