Friday, April 12, 2013

"Honest and Gritty" Memoir

"Writing is a form of therapy; sometimes I wonder how all those who do not write, compose or paint can manage to escape the melancholia, the panic and fear which is inherent in a human situation." ~ Graham Greene.
 
Jan L. Backes talks about what inspired her memoir piece, "Heavenly Baseball Diamond" for Slants of Light.
I met Kathy Pooler here on the Women’s Writing Circle blog and have written her quotes in my notebook. On the blog she wrote: “Writing through the pain has helped release the burdens of my heart.”
In the beginning of "Heavenly Baseball Diamond," I was making an attempt to reconcile the pain of my self-loathing that led to a near fatal overdose of anti-depressants. As I grew into the story I realized that writing about my experience could help others and perhaps prevent a single suicide or save someone from having the experience I had at age twenty.
When I write memoir, it is honest and gritty. I am trying to process the sludge lining my aching soul. I am letting go of splinters. Having experienced everything firsthand and having it all be true is, by far, best for the reader. There is no ‘between the lines’ and I’m all there, unwrapped.
I knew, even when I was young, that I didn’t want to carry with me such heartache and pain. I have regrets; some say they have none. It was important for me to get my feelings out and across. The events in my story were real. I took fifty pills with a can of beer.
I recall the look and feel of the baseball diamond itself; barren, dusty and worn down with no real bases to speak of. I was never able to hit a ball there. It may still sit on the campus in Eagleville, PA where I was rehabilitated in the early 1980’s.
Writing about my darkest days helped awaken my bruised spirit. I nourished myself by letting out my words. As I started to write, memories of my attempted suicide bombarded me. Instead of hiding, I gave myself permission to write from a deep place in my soul. I began to realize that my voice is strong and could help others.
Being part of the Women's Writing Circle provides me with a safe place to create and share my life stories. That is where we find our 'slants of light' . . . light that inspires us to reach in and then to reach out.
Jan Backes grew up in Levittown, PA and graduated from Pennsbury High School in Fairless Hills. "I’ve dabbled in attempts at writing poetry. 'Heavenly Baseball Diamond,' as it appears in the anthology, is one of my only edited stories," she says.

14 comments:

kathleen pooler said...

Dear Jan,

I am touched my your true grit--your willingness to face your own pain and "process the sludge lining your aching soul." It is in our humanness that we connect with each other and create pathways of healing for ourselves and others. I am honored by your mention and link. Thank you and keep writing!
Blessings,
Kathy

LadyDi said...

Love your gritty, honest, courageous writing. Love your willingness to lay your life on the page to help yourself and others. (You WILL touch others and give hope where none is felt.) Just plain love you.

ep said...

Dear Jan,
Your sincerity has come at a great price. Heartache is often a constant companion....please remember, too, that heartache is a brave witness to the authentic life you have examined...and have found worthy to live. Thank you, Jan. Yes, LadyDi is right...
Edda

ep said...

Dear Jan,
Your sincerity has come at a great price. Heartache is often a constant companion....please remember, too, that heartache is a brave witness to the authentic life you have examined...and have found worthy to live. Thank you, Jan. Yes, LadyDi is right...
Edda

Jan Backes said...

Kathy,

Thank you for your comments. As I've said before, it is an honor to have met you. I am glad that we have connected in our healing path.
Thank you,
Jan

Jan Backes said...

Hi Di,

Love ya back. Unlike some, I do not have children to leave my legacy to but you encourage me to write for me and I am grateful for that. It helps me to live.
Always,
Jan

Jan Backes said...

My dear Edda,

You have shown me in your words and with your hugs that I am a survivor and I can't thank you enough for it. I am just so glad to know you. Period.
Best,
Jan

Susan G. Weidener said...

Jan, I second what everyone is saying here and I want to add that your writing IS gritty and your voice honest and sure. Your story in our anthology offers up a glimpse of life that many of us never have, nor will, experience. That is the power of collaboration as each of us brings to this book a unique voice, perspective and life experience. Thank you. Susan

Jan Backes said...

Susan,

It is wonderful to be part of the Circle; part of the writing that is all of the fifteen women to share so deeply in so many ways. Thank God that I am around to tell my story. But without our group of kind souls I may not have ever brought this or any other story to light. It is with acceptance that I gain courage and I recommend anyone to gain perspective through a writing "group."
Many thanks for all you've done and continue to do to make my life more rich.
Jan

Ginger Murphy said...

Jan - Your "straight-up" approach to telling your story packs a real punch and I so respect your courage to be honest about the way it was and the way you feel. And you're so right: that gives others courage to tell their stories too. I loved what you said about your bruised soul starting the recover ... I know a lot of us can relate to that! Thanks for your gifts, Ginger

Jan Backes said...

Thank you, Ginger,

If my writing inspires one to write that is great. If it heals a single soul, that is even better. I can only encourage folks to dig deeply and let it all shine. I am so glad to be on the path with you, my friend.
Best,
Jan

Candice said...

Jan-
I can't tell you how refreshing you are as a writer and as a friend. Your authenticity is your trademark. You always say it and write it like it is. Going into battle without you, would be like going to the icecream truck without money...simply unheard of.
Thanks for being you.

Candice

Jan Backes said...

Candice,

I do not take the time often enough to say how much you mean to me. Yesterday when you said you are in good company I wanted to second that. In addition to being an excellent writer, you are one of the sweetest women I know.
So glad to have you as a sister on the journey to wellness.
Love,
Jan

Anonymous said...

Jan, as I began to read your post, I could only think of the movie title "True Grit." You are filled with what it takes to exhibit that grit and courage to tell your story. While reading your story, I was moved by the fluid movement and your choice of words to describe certain events and things. Keep that desire going by continuing to write!