Thursday, March 05, 2009

Something to Say

By Nichole Giles

After Karen’s post about her mother, and then Darvell’s about his father, I’ve given a lot of thought to writing as a therapeutic exercise. During times of extreme emotion, I’ve found that writing, above all else, has the ability to help me sort through my feelings and find the words to express my pain, anger, joy, or happiness.

We all use different forms of this therapy. Karen has her letters, Darvell has been known to express grief through fictional means, and others write in journals. We blog, we email, we write entire books as tribute to our feelings. More often than not, the writing that comes from our deepest emotions turns out to be our best work, even if it will never be publishable. Because whatever words we use are true to us at the time we write them. They are the most true words we know, and so they become our best.

Writing, for most people, is an expression of a deeper person who lives far below the surface of our outside faces. I’ve heard several times that a writer’s first book is autobiographical. I’m going to disagree on that point. I think every work that comes from an author is autobiographical—not because the characters are modeled after the author, but because there is a piece of the author in everything they write.

My twelve-year-old daughter has a private blog. She only posts once a month or so, but when she does, I continue to be impressed with her ability to express herself, and to describe the things happening in her adolescent life. I see in her writing style and voice—while she’s too young and inexperienced to understand she has them—that are unique and descriptive. She isn’t writing for the joy—of all my children, she’s the least likely to grow up and chose to be a writer—she’s writing because she has something to say. That’s all.

And sometimes, that’s the only motivation we need. Writers or not. In all it’s forms, writing is the truest expression of self. Just like art, music, and dance.

On a more humorous note, I told my visiting teachers the other day that I sometimes hear voices in my head. One sister grinned and chuckled, expressing her amazement at what I do. But the other one—newer to visiting me—looked at me in alarm. She didn’t say anything, and I hope I didn’t scare her with the truth. I was only trying to explain that as I was driving to a seventh-grade basketball tournament, two full-fledged scenes for a new book thundered into my mind, and I was grateful for my handy-dandy notebook because I got the idea on paper before it could vanish. I took the scenes—which I turned into a full chapter—to critique with me the other night and it was well received. Looks like I know what will be my next project.

I realize that these new scenes are the manifestations of a culmination of events that occurred over a two-week period. And this chapter is my way of expressing feelings about those events. No one in my life died. I don’t have a giant source of grief or a life-altering problem. But I do live in the world, and because our world is far from perfect, my emotions scream to be heard. I have something to say. That’s all.

And so I’ll say it through writing. Why not? It’s way cheaper than therapy.


LexiconLuvr said...

I never thought about keeping a notebook with me before for moments like that. Good thinking.

I agree with you about every work being autobiographical because writers really do put everything they are into what they do. It isn't good enough or real enough to me if I don't.

As for the therapy, couldn't agree more.

Scarlet Knight said...

I also agree with the therapy thing! I have so many written words about chocolate. It's sad, and a little disturbing. But very therapeutic. ;)

Loved your post Nichole!
(Hey, I finally added that h in Nichole. So sorry I haven't before. I really need a spell checker in my head!)

Nichole Giles said...

I have learned the hard way how very important it is to keep a notebook handy. Napkins get lost, gum wrappers aren't big enough, and ideas only last as long as you're still thinking them.

Sad, but true. And therapy only works if you can practice it whenever you need it via pen and paper.

Hey, Scarlet, we all write about chocolate! Unless we don't like it, then we write about gummy bears or black licorice. In fact, I'm eating junior mints as I type right now. (No problem about the h--I hadn't even noticed!)

ali said...

I've heard that said before - about an author's first book. Until tonight I had dismissed it out of hand, but now I have to say that I totally agree with you.

Everything I write says something else about me.

Even I might not be able to say exactly what that is, lol, but you're right ... it's there.

Darvell Hunt said...

So true, Nichole. What more can I say, but "amen."

Nichole Giles said...

I don't believe it would be possible for me to write...anything that didn't mean something to me.

And Ali, who says we have to understand what we're writing about? I couldn't explain half of what comes out of me! (And I think I'm glad for that.)

Darvell, I've seen some of your theraputic writing--and I know how healing it has been for you. Now's the time for you to keep going.

Tristi Pinkston said...

I totally agree - every book we write has part of us in it. We're telling our story every time we pick up a pen (or sit down at a keyboard, for that matter.) Lovely post.