Thursday, October 20, 2011


I call this type of writing transformative because it opens us up in so many surprising ways. This morning I received an email from a woman who had been reading my blogs about my mother. Our situations were so similar. She was facing the grief and the guilt and the sense of isolation I knew too well. But through the blogs we connected -- two strangers no longer isolated.

By the simple act of writing about what I was dealing with, I was able to take certain aspects of my life that made me feel like a raving lunatic and deposit them on the page. It’s freeing. And in the process of digging through that dirt, I always seem to uncover some little glint of gold or silver, a precious gem here or there -- something unexpected.

At the Sevenoaks Retreat, Cali captured this process in her writing:

What happened was that I came with a question – “how can I find more peace with my mother?” And what I’m finding is that writing may be the tool for that. I get that I can tell a story, and that I’ve got all kinds of dramatic ones to tell. The thing I didn’t get is that in reaching inside for the story, I may grab something else, something worth having. I get that the question of “Where is my mother?” will help me see the ways she showed up true and strong as well as the over-reviewed stories about her drug -induced, man-driven absences. So here I am on Sunday afternoon and what happened is my mother only left 2 messages today, and I only listened to one of them. I feel peaceful that I am living my own life. I wish she had been the kind of mother who would have asked what the workshop was, not so narcissistic. And most of all, I wish her well.

The key idea, I think, in transformative writing is that sense of surprise -- “reaching inside for the story” and grabbing something else instead. Our unconscious has gifts for us, and it is through writing that we are able to receive them.

WIY: With whom do you need to find peace? Maybe it’s a parent, a lover, a child, or even yourself. Write about it for ten minutes. Then write their side of the story for another ten. What surprised you?

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