Friday, February 08, 2008


Went out with Deb, Jess, and Prema tonight. Three women I've known just a year. Three women I can't imagine or recall a time not knowing. Three fellow memoir writers with stories that burn to be told, that wake us up to be written and draw us away from "real life" until they are finally out.

We went to hear another memoirist, Felicia Sullivan. Many of the questions from the audience were on her process of writing, and whether that process had been healing or re-traumatizing. She said it had been both, but ultimately, deeply healing and had brought her the closure she sought.

These were comforting words to me as I attempt to rewrite my manuscript, AGAIN. There are parts I just can't bear to read one more time, they take me straight back to the pain, the frustration, the isolation, the loneliness. Just reading them back to myself is re-traumatizing, and I am at a loss for how to work those scenes over until they make music. All they make is noise to me.

Perhaps that is the point of all this memoir writing? To revisit and re-examine those darkest points of our lives and scariest parts of our souls until those places lose their grip over us? Until we are no longer at their mercy, but compassionate witnesses looking from a different vantage point?

Just seeing Deb, Jess and Prema mirror back to me my own process over the last year, I see that the pain is part and parcel to the recovery. Pain not dealt with is still pain. Pain grabbed and forced to the light becomes something else.

I'm not sure just what.

But something.

Else.

13 comments:

Suzy said...

Gorgeous post Carrie.

So happy you have Jess, Prema and Deb with you.

Yes, the rewriting sucks, but I find the same thing you do- rewriting it over and over gives it perspectives from every angle which allows me to see I had no part or blame in what had happened.
Each piece taken apart so many times doesn't change things, but it does break up the initial horror and sadness and for me, allows me to examine bit by bit what has happened. I think that process helps to give back the control that was taken away from us.
Love you.

Suzy

lo said...

I am soooo relating to this post! Can't wait to hear more about what F said about the process. I too get in a funk when working on my memoir...and so then i stop.....
I have an idea.
Why don't the bunch of us rent a beach house (at the beach of course) and write by day and drink wine, eat, share and reflect by night.......
LO:)XO

smallspiralnotebook said...

Carrie,
Thanks again for coming out last night; it was so lovely to have met you!!
Cheers, Felicia

Michelle O'Neil said...

I don't know if you can grab pain and force it into the light? Perhaps a soft coaxing, a promise of safety, an assurance of love is more in order.

P.S. I LOVE that picture.

Mid-lifer said...

Hey, thanks for visiting my blog.
Lots of similarities here - I too have a 13y.o. daughter, plus a 10 y.o. son and been married 17 years (living together 26 years....eeeeeek!)

Stick at it with the rewriting. It is a drawn out process and fresh things may come out with the rewrite. In a way I think it's a privilege to write a memoir and explore your past through the power of writing. Relish it and Good luck!

cvb said...

I think that Michell has it right. . . "don't know if you can grab pain and force it into the light? Perhaps a soft coaxing, a promise of safety, an assurance of love", is often the way of letting the story unfold in the order of the divine.

Sometimes setting a problem gently aside allows the truth to float to the surface when it is ready.

It sounds like there is a serious story to be told and it will happen when it is time, God's time, not what we think is the right time.

Memoirs are my favorite readings. There is so much value in sharing and learning from each other's stories. The power is letting these secrets out into the light.

Caroline

riversgrace said...

I think it pivotal to reach sincerely, deeply inside to write...and rewrite...and just as essential to reach out and share as your doing. That's where grace comes in, that's where shift can happen.

Let's meet for coffee with a section and go over it together.

Humor and caffeine and curiosity and love can go a long way!

La La said...

Wow. I find it to be both healing and traumatizing, too! Some days it's too much, and I have to stop. Other days it's more healing.

I totally relate to the "All they make is noise to me."

And, I look forward to looking at it all from a "different vantage point."

Jess said...

Blogger just ate my witty comment, I'll get back to you with a new one later.

Kapuananiokalaniakea said...

Stick with it Linkey-la. If writing was easy, everybody would do it, right?

Sometimes when I start to write a piece, I end up with something totally different. Rereading and rewriting then allows me to move past the "oh wow, I can't imagine where that came from?"

I'm being very inarticulate here, so I hope you meant what I know.

deb said...

"Perhaps that is the point of all this memoir writing? To revisit and re-examine those darkest points of our lives and scariest parts of our souls until those places lose their grip over us? Until we are no longer at their mercy, but compassionate witnesses looking from a different vantage point?"

I think that's exactly right. You keep going over it until you're finally able to put it away, not forget it, just put it away.

Terry Whitaker said...

Of late, your process has been really difficult for me to even read, so you must be getting somewhere. Hot buttons all over.

Deb said...

I love the magic that happens when we're together - in person or in words. I love your courage and your willingness to keep going. I'm inspired by you. I love you.