I started writing, at sixteen, because I was angry inside, ticked off at someone... and didn't know how to vocalize it and avoid confrontation at the same time. (Sound familiar?)
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At first it was just writing letters to my enemy... (at the time, my first husband) which got trashed right afterwards lest he find it and know what I thought of him at that moment. Most of my sentences were incomplete, garbled, and contained a lot of four-letter words, most of which weren’t spelled right and definitely would be embarrassing had anyone else read them! At least I got the sentiment out of me and away from my spirit.
Most of those original writings were tear-stained and crumpled when I re-read them. I had a counselor back then that told me my salvation from those fits of anger would be found if I would search out and find a way to re-write them in eloquent and acceptable words. It took a while of reading the dictionary before those sentiments began to come out as poetry. But, as such, my writing was great therapy and good training to keep my mouth shut in arguments. From that I wrote an apothegm for my son to learn: “Words said in anger can never be erased. Consequences of the mention, must someday be faced.”
Then, I realized I was saying some really heavy stuff in those letters, so I began to journal my thoughts and experiences and create more wise little sayings . When he was old enough to read, I posted a 3”x5” note-card on the refrigerator with one saying a week and told him to learn it. Doing something constructive with my feelings helped me make good use out of my “down-time.”
After a while, I re-read the journal and realized I'd left the feelings behind, and that I’d also told several swell stories there from beginning to end.
After ten years of journal entries, a failed marriage and entering a good marriage with troubled step-kids and a vindictive ex-wife of my husband’s, I found my calling: Documenting drama and script-writing! “Experience is the best teacher, especially if it is someone else's!”
Along the way, my mother died, with whom I had a love/hate relationship for forty years. After the funeral, where the entire family came unglued, I sat down, tearfully, to write a poem and got up five days later with a book-in-hand that spilled my guts about our tenuous relationship, my childhood sibling incest, and my WWII “PTSS” dysfunctional father. It got agented almost immediately as a "coming of age/historic" piece, until I took it back, a bit too embarrassed to publicize it until after I die! But, just for kicks, I wrote it as a movie, too. I'm leaving it for my grandkids to profit from. By then, what's to be embarrassed about?
The cool thing I’ve found out about writing what you know, in any form, is that it releases some healing mechanism within you: First, you must acknowledge that something happened. Second, when you write it, it gets “the thing” out where you can come to terms with it, especially if it was traumatic. Third, you can leave it there, on the black-and-white page when your struggle is over, and lock it away in a file or box if you must.
The first time I wrote about my mother's dying, and my brother’s incest, I bawled through the entire thing. A month later, I undertook a re-write, and found (surprisingly!) that I only bawled at the really sad events I'd endured. By the time I wrote the final draft of the movie script version, I found (much to my continuing surprise) that I didn't cry at all: not one drop. Things had distanced themselves and reconciled themselves and I had had a chance to work through the ir-rationale of my parents, siblings, and self!
I will be eternally grateful for having been pushed into writing by life! It was probably my destiny to begin with, and I just didn't know it! Whatever! I'm glad I'm here, now, doing what I love.