Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Letting the Genie Out of the Bottle

What if we did not view writing our stories as a luxury, something we were only allowed to do when we didn't have the house to clean, the children to tend, the job demands to fulfill?

 In her book Writing As A Way Of Healing: How Telling Our Stories Transforms Our Lives, Louise DeSalvo writes: "What if writing were a simple, significant, yet necessary way to achieve spiritual, emotional, and psychic wholeness?"

Writing about past traumatic events in our lives is like uncorking the bottle - out pops the Genie with all its mystical and magical power.

As DeSalvo notes, many of the great writers - Virginia Woolf and Henry Miller, to name but two - were depressed and stymied in the writing process until they began writing about past traumatic events. In Woolf's case, it was being sexually assaulted by her half-brother; in Miller's about the loss of his wife who left him for another woman. Once they had reflected on the pent-up emotion of their trauma, they were able to move on to a richer, more textured life.

This month's "assignment" in the Circle is an invitation to explore a past traumatic event.  Try writing about the event and the emotion at the same time. Engage with your writing in a way that allows you to achieve energy, depth, power and soulfulness - in other words, to claim your voice.

As always, if this is not what you care to do or if you are working on a piece of fiction, short story, or poem, please bring that to the Circle.

The Women’s Writing Circle meets at 9 a.m. on Saturday, September 11 in the Wellington Square Bookshop in Exton.  See you there.


Jan Backes said...


Thank you for this blog. All that seems to emerge from me is the traumatic. It does feel good to let the Genie out yet I feel depressed afterwards. I have just ordered DeSalvo's book and hope to feel richer as I read and write with her.


Susan G. Weidener said...

Hi Jan,

That's awesome you ordered the book.

I think we just have to keep writing, whether we want to or not. I do remember writing about my husband and feeling afterward this tremendous loss - how very much I missed him. It was very hard, almost unbearable. Some days I wondered why I kept writing about him; it almost felt masochistic! Now I know I had to tell the story. I had to write his story and mine as a way of putting closure on some parts of it.