Hard to Write

I am working on a memoir that is hard to write. Its about a very abusive relationship, and when I sit down to work on it, I relive the whole thing. But in writing it, I find that I take the pain out of myself and give it to the pages, so its no longer inside me. I worked so hard to forget this time in my life, I find, that it won't be forgotten unless I remember and put it someplace else.

If anyone has any advise on this subject, I would really appreciate it. Thanks.

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  • Jennifer Boire

    this is a very helpful thread of comments. I face the same difficulty but with going back and editing what was written over ten years ago and still slumbers on my laptop. Recently I made a pact with a woman who also finds it difficult to write about events of long ago, and we decided to make a weekly "date" by email, to write something and send it to each other, not for critique, but just to be held accountable. It's too easy to squirm out of the writing time, load myself up with household tasks, skirt the issue entirely by avoiding it. Yet, every time I see a new book come out (memoir) I kick myself - the desire and need to write these stories is still there.

    I think sometimes a therapist may be necessary also, to bolster my courage, to find creative ways to deal with my own resistance. The image I have is of a black hole sucking my energy into it - in the past I've felt depressed just thinking about going back to writing. Having a writing class or group is one way I've worked with this in the past. I hope my plan with this writing buddy will help me lose the fear of the whirlpool. I also plan to make a collage in my art journal to visualize the scary sucking thing and stare it down :)

  • Judging from your first paragraph, I'd say you are on the right track. It takes a lot of courage to face our demons, but it's the best way to get rid of them. Hang in there!

  • Danise Wallace

    I agree with comments- that writing the emotional story that has taken place inside of us from the trauma in our lives, gives way to healing. It is the best medicine for our souls... It has taken me 10 years to write my MS; that I am now trying to query out to agents. If i had written it with ink, the pages would have been stained with many tears. Catherine, you are right- it gives us another place to put those thoughts and feelings.

  • Such amazing feedback by @Patricia Robertson and @Rosalee Bloston, thank you so much for your support!

  • catherine meara

    Thank you Patricia and Roselee. I am done with it and will begin editing next week. I've found that the experience is finally over. It will always live in my memory, but only there. The physical, emotional, and psychic pain of right now are gone. I can concentrate on all the things I've let this experience allow me to ignore. This abuse happened thirty years ago, only when I confronted it did it finally go away. I wrote this book for me. But now, I find, that I've written it for all domestic abuse victims. I hope they have a chance to read it and find out that there is another side. I never knew I had such strength without the occasion to use it.

  • Patricia Robertson

    Catherine, writing is healing. Allow the words to flow without censor until all of the pain is out. Be sure to take care of yourself while you are doing this. Treat yourself to ice cream, long soaks in a tub, walks in nature, whatever renews your spirit. After getting it all out on paper, let it rest for a while, weeks or months, before picking it up again and looking at what you have written with new eyes. Every time you do this, it will get a little easier and you will gain new insights.

  • Everything you say resonates, Catherine. My memoir, DYING IN DUBAI, coming out Oct 1, took eight years to write— word by word, page, by page, draft by draft. The most difficult scenes took the most time, because I had the most resistance as well as the most need to write them. Write what you can, when you can, out of order, in five minutes bursts, whatever you have to do to get it down. Take breaks, then go back to it with fresh eyes. Eventually, you will have, as you say, put the pain "someplace else." I wish for you the satisfaction of one day holding the book in your hand, and of knowing that it will help others who read it.

  • Great question, Catherine! I'm going to share this post with our community and ask for their advice!