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.