Sunday, December 27, 2020

writing through

A couple decades ago had you brought up the idea if writing being a therapeutic medium, I may have scoffed and rolled my eyes. Perhaps even a decade ago, the same reaction.  After all, weren't we writing ART (tm) and not journal entries.  Weren't we striving for the universal, bot the personal? There is of course, lots of bad autobiographical writing coming out of writers the world over in the name of self-help and repair. But then again, when we think of great art, how much of it is a purging of sorts--whatever that looks like?  Confessionalism, or Anais Nins journals, Woolf's diaries. Whether explicitly autobiographical or not, isn't there some value for the writer in the act of writing, even if the subject matter is far removed from experience?

Despite my scoffing, writing has always been a way of thinking for me.  I am grappling with something, I write it down (first in notebooks in my teens and twenties, later in blog entries such as these. This covers everything from craft and po-biz discussions, and random other things, personal and not personal. I always think that the writing, whatever the form, whatever the medium or audience, is a large part of what centers me when things begin to tilt.  Writing was enormously helpful in pulling me out  the worst depression in my early twenties (it wasn't at all what I was writing, just that I was), What helped me through relationships, navigating both good and bad, whatever I was actually writing about at the time. Also, what helped me in the months after my mother's death. Actually, even in the days after she died--I was tasked to write something for the funeral, during the drafting of which was the first time I actually cried after being frozen and panicked for two days.  Somewhere the draft of it is saved on my studio laptop, but I've never revisited it, but know that it's there. Almost as if the sadness needed words to make it real. 

This year, it took a minute to get the tap going again, but writing, again whatever that may be, has kept me sane and given me rudder to the ship that threatens to go down more than I like.  Obviously, this shows up in the writing as echos and threads of what is happening in my mental state--how they bend even other subject matters into meditations on my concerns (The Shining poems did not initially start off as critiques of capitalism, but there you go.) There are moments where another series, another fragment, digs into some emotional deepness in me and catches and those are also a kind of purging, a dark wriggling bit of yuck dragged out into the light. 

I like those moments best.

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