Hello to all the writers out there, on this rainy, windy day in Connecticut. Adair Heitmann here, trying not to batten down the hatches as the wind howls all around my office window. On my early morning walk, I donned my jet black down coat, indigo blue baseball cap and headed out into the storm. Holding my lime and kelly green umbrella in a two-fisted grip I maneuvered it like the sail on a boat, as I braved the blustery weather. I walked briskly for a mile down to the sea and returned home dripping wet, and purified. Immersing myself in nature’s raw elements reminded me of what we do, as writers, when we express our emotional tensions on paper.
I’ve learned from experience that sometimes the best therapy is to write feelings out. Memoirists do it all the time, as do journal writers and essayists. Just like going into the storm on my walk, we need the same preparedness and courage to bring our feelings into consciousness on paper. We need to know when to stop, and possibly have a box of tissue handy. It helps to have an understanding and compassionate friend to call or a therapist to talk to if the writing brings up too much too soon. Sometimes our cathartic writing is for our eyes only and at other times it is confidentially shared with a writing group.
Writing helps us get to the heart of the matter. We can purge pity or terror and come through the other side feeling whole. What was once trauma, when viewed with perspective may become the next best-seller. Look at Elizabeth Gilbert’s memoir Eat, Pray, Love. As an author, Gilbert showed her pain in a universal light, with candor and humor. She turned her devastating experience of divorce into a soul-searching spiritual odyssey and the rest is publishing history.