The Transformative Power of Writing Memoir

I believe in writing—it’s almost like a religion. A quotation I have on the side of my frig says, “Talking to paper is talking to the divine. It is talking to an ear that will understand even the most difficult things. Paper is infinitely patient…” (Nina Holtzer). Journaling has saved my mental health over and over. I love having the details there in the notebook, just for myself. And I love the process of writing in which I start out confused and just write without stopping for 20 minutes (“freewriting”—thank you, Peter Elbow), almost always arriving by magic at some new understanding.

And then writing this memoir of recovery from abuse is another layer of writing and understanding. As I read and transcribe my journals, I relive my growth of the past ten years. Time and again, I spiral up into a new level of understanding and of peace with my history and respect for myself. Crafting the story from journals into a narrative that someone else might enjoy reading is another layer of work. It both challenges me to grow as a writer and reminds me of the beauty inherent in personal growth.

A friend of mine today described writing about personal trauma as a process of translation, transforming something fundamentally indescribable and wordless into a skein of language. So it is.

So I want to say a great big thank you to the writing community out there, to all who blog, and to all who read.

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