Entries Tagged as 'healing literature'

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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A healing potion of words

January 27, 2014

Have you ever read until you felt better? I certainly have. Many times.

Sometimes my sadness is too big that spoken words don’t help me get it all out right. But words in books abandon the page and slip cunningly into the precise areas I’ve denied all access, slowly starting to mend the broken pieces and putting things into place.

And friends are the best, but a piece of literature will never tell you ‘I know how you feel’. Because nobody knows how you feel. Instead, a book becomes a diary where you project all of what you are going through onto its pages. It becomes uniquely personal in a way that nothing else, so publicly available, will. A book is neither condescending, nor invasive; a book doesn’t abandon you: it’s there, patiently witnessing your trauma and heartbreak. And that’s good, because a corny self-help quote is the last thing you need. And that’s great, because what didn’t kill me didn’t make me stronger. At all.

If you have ever been touched by a book, you often go back to the shelf, picking that particular book up, and read parts of it over and over again to yourself, as its words speak to you in a way everyday language can’t. While everyday words, such as sad, helpless or broken seem to subtract from the feeling and strip down the experience, the symbolic significance of stories and their imagery help us deal with difficult emotions at a time where everything is experienced in top volume. Good literature speaks respectfully to us about a thing we know deeply, but are at a loss for words to utter.

Sounds familiar?  The Sad Book is a picturebook which chronicles Michael Rosen's grief at the death of his son Eddie from meningitis at the age of 19. Illustrated by Quentin Blake, this beautiful book does not pretend that pain is easy to bear.

The Sad Book is a picturebook which chronicles Michael Rosen’s grief at the death of his son, Eddie, from meningitis at the age of 19. Illustrated by Quentin Blake, this beautiful book does not pretend that pain is easy to bear. The Sad Book, 2004

Through these poignant images, Oliver Jeffers explores the themes of love and loss

Through these poignant images, Oliver Jeffers explores the themes of love and loss. Heart and the Bottle, 2009

Books allow you to stay with your sadness. ‘Pain demands to be felt’, John Green writes. And in this ‘gotta be happy, gotta have it all figured out’ society, it is relieving to be granted moments when it’s okay to be unhappy, and feel that others have been there too. Life is hard sometimes, you know? Because you lose people you didn’t want to lose, and you often dream and work and try your best and you don’t succeed, and then there are those times when you just want to love and be loved and it is not easy. What you need in these moments is not a magic wand to make it all okay. You need to experience it, you need literature, which will offer you powerful coping tools: effective metaphors, poignant stories, honest images which will support you to deal with your feelings, learn from it and grow… It helps.

Does any of these seem familiar to you? Do you believe in the healing power of words? What books have helped you deal with a difficult period in your life? Share your experience in the comments below. I’d love to know.



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