Quote of the Week: “Creativity takes courage.” Henri Matisse
Prompt of the Week: Write about a loss, however simple or complex. It could be a friendship, a family member, a tooth, your keys, a slipper. How did it happen? Why does this loss matter?
One of the hardest things in writing is when we’re called to write about difficult things, in real life or in fiction. It’s easy if all we have to do is scratch the surface or write about something that’s fairly safe or innocuous.
But what if we’re writing about something that’s emotionally loaded? What if the mere thought of it sets off a series of emotional time bombs, one after the other? What if what we’re writing about would be considered a betrayal, something we were told never to discuss, never to talk about?
“I can’t write about that,” is something I’ll hear from students in my memoir writing class. And yet, whatever that something is, it still plagues them. It’s the first thing that comes to mind when I tell them to write about a secret or something difficult. They can’t shake it. It makes them squirm. It keeps them up nights. And chances are it has for months or even years.
So what to do? As the old adage goes, the best way out is through. Whatever has you in its grasp, you may as well look it in the eye and go for it. You won’t be free until you do. You can dance around it, justify, candy coat, excuse, forgive, forget, move on. But often it still lingers, because what it wants is to be acknowledged – to be called for what it is. Talking about it is one thing (in fact, some of us can’t stop talking about it and others will charge you buckets of money to hear you talk about it, usually to the tune of $60-$150 an hour).
Writing, on the other hand, makes it tangible and real. There it is, what happened or at least your memory and experience of it, in black and white.
This is the power of writing—to put it down, name it, and in doing so, release it. It goes from your heart, your head, through your body, down your arm, to your fingertips and onto the page. You don’t have to share it—nobody else needs to see it. But you need to form that first word and then string it together with other words until it forms a salvation, or at least a little release.
This is not about writing as therapy. Writing is how we communicate and make sense of the world. It’s about writing as a means to understanding who we are, why we are here, and what we need to do next. When you share your writing with others (fiction, nonfiction, or creative nonfiction like memoir), it helps others find their connection, too.
Good writing isn’t scared to go there. Its obligation isn’t to fear, but to truth. And we, as readers and human beings, can sniff out writing that isn’t honest. Honest writing is fearless writing.
Darien Gee is a national bestselling author based in Waimea. Her most recent novel is “The Avalon Ladies Scrapbooking Society.” She also writes under the name Mia King. Visit her at dariengee.com or miaking.com.