Entries Tagged as 'creative writing'

Let words be your poison

January 23, 2015

3, 2, 1

Happy new year!

So maybe the way we count hours, days, months and years is based on an arbitrary system but still, you and I know that time passes and that, in any case, it’s 2015. And  within those seconds that count down to a new year, you can almost feel that you won’t be the same after the clock strikes twelve. And sometimes you are not. Because this is how change happens: you close your eyes, you smile and decide to live your life differently.

Last time I blogged, I concluded that I should start asking better questions. I was deep in my summer blues and writing about it, both offline and online, helped. It helped me cope with my life’s transitions and gave me a sense of control over what felt an inexplicable wave of emotions. And that’s normal. Because that’s what writing does: rather than allowing you to banish your sadness or avoid suffering, it helps you find a way to suffer better. ‘Do not ignore or throw away your grief,’ sculptor Richard Serra says. As opposed to the prevailing empty self help jargon to stay positive, taking a moment to acknowledge and process your feelings, gives you a chance to honour them. So I now write more. Not in order to finish a novel. Not to improve my writing skills. Not to get published, but as an emotional release, as a way to connect with myself and to one another.

And through a series of workshops, I want to share my insights of the last few years on therapeutic creative writing. Because I have learnt from Victoria Field that you don’t need therapy when you have creative writing: writing is that important because, as  Gillie Bolton says,  ‘it uses our ordinary everyday worlds and puts things together in different ways rather than tearing them apart – it puts elements together that weren’t together before. It’s that congruence, that meeting of different things that makes poetry flash fire and make things happen for us.’

Forget what your teacher or anyone has told you. Your writing is valid. Your writing is enough. Your writing is important. Write more this year, write freely. Discover yourself, write in odd places, on large pieces of paper, on post-its or even napkins. Write in quiet, uninterrupted places, write in a noisy cafe, in a stuffy waiting room. Let those well hidden emotions bubble to the surface. Let it be your psychotherapy, your meditation.

Alice in Wonderland, Illustration by John Tenniel

Alice in Wonderland, Illustration by John Tenniel

If you need an extra push you can start with an exercise from the book  The Writer’s Key by Gillie Bolton. Complete the following sentence beginnings. You can write a statement or a lot more than that. Don’t think too much. You can also do your exercise in the comments below or just share your feedback on how the exercise felt.

I am…

I know…

I think…

I believe…

I remember…

I feel…

I want…

I wish…

I can…

I wonder…

I hope…

I was told…

I promise myself I will…

 Join me. Let words be your drug, your poison of choice.

Love, Louiza


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The Book Hangover

April 29, 2014

You might have heard about it.

I had always felt that it was an exaggeration, as each time I finish a book, I happily move on to the next one. A few weeks ago, however, when I finished reading a 900-pages book, I experienced profound sadness. And I almost felt ashamed of it. As if the world isn’t plagued with enough issues, there is me bemoaning the fact that there were not enough pages in my book. It is not as if the book was a masterpiece or the best thing I had ever read, but I found glimpses of truth in it and, quickly after finishing it, I found myself thinking about it while getting coffee or carrying my groceries. I even animatedly talked to friends about one of the characters. Regularly.

Right?! Illustration by Nicola O'Byrne for the book Open Very Carefully: A Book with Bite (Author Nick Bromley)

Right?! Illustration by Nicola O’Byrne for the book Open Very Carefully: A Book with Bite, 2013 (Author Nick Bromley)

Although at first I felt uncomfortable about my discomfort, my initial feelings of guilt are gone. Because 900 pages are sort of a big commitment. And I showed up for each of those pages. I became attached, involved, invested. And so much life has happened as I turned those leafs.

So I decided to address the issue and, as every responsible person would do, I sought professional help for my book hangover situation. That means that I googled it. And I actually got some really good suggestions:

‘Start a new book’  I did, but I found myself wondering about the fate of the characters of the old book during the first pages of the new book, so that did not work out very well. And then I was really judgmental and unfair with the new book: ‘That book’s character would never do this and that writer would never use such weak metaphors.’ And that was not true. But I did abandon it after the first pages.

‘Re-read the book’ This advice I did not even bother to follow because everyone knows that nothing is as good the second time around.

‘Discuss the book with friends’ The book was not exactly a new title, and it was 900 pages long so, practically speaking, I could not get a friend to read it overnight. But I found that speaking about books in general with people who love reading and treat fictional characters as real individuals lifts me up.

So I did not find a quick fix for my book hangover and, although I am an unrepentant runaway, addicted to the dope of literary escapism, it took a while until I embarked on a new reading journey. I just paused to experience the temporary nature of things. Of happiness, of safety. Of fictional universes you can no longer inhabit. And I am an advocate for a lot of causes around difficult issues which impact my country, but when a book you really connected with ends-that’s hard too. Because it involves loss.

And that’s life for you. Losing something in order not to feel lost ourselves.




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