Personal Anecdote, Writing 101

How to Write from Your Past [Happy Mother’s Day!]

Writing is a deeply personal experience that, when done correctly, pulls a lot of you as a creator. You are required to be an archaeologist of your own mind and heart. What does that mean you ask? Glad you did. An archaeologist doesn’t just dig up old dirt and bones. They are detectives whose ultimate goal is to find the truth in the past. Each piece of history they pull out of a mountain, a desert, the underground, or the ocean is another part of the larger puzzle of an ancient mystery.  Writers have to be like that. You can’t just take a cursory glance at the surface level of your feelings and tell us that you’re hurt. You have to dig to a place that you forgot existed and piece together the mystery that you couldn’t see the in past.

The better you get at it, the more difficult it can be. I can always tell the difference between writers who are playing in the sand and those who are digging deeply and asking the hard questions.

This is something…I’ll admit…has been an ongoing challenge for me. It is only with great difficulty that I’ve been able to get through my current project, “A Memoir.” It’s my first collection of poetry, but I think of it as a nonfiction collection of stories, moments, and reminiscences of people that heavily influenced me to become the person I am today written in the poetic form. I chose to write my memoir in the form of poetry because that is the most honest medium for me to write about my own life. I’ve always expressed myself best in poetry, however, that does not mean that it’s been the easiest way for me to tell my feelings.

Taking hard and honest looks at yourself, your mess, and your pain requires many moons of personal introspection and dissection. Don’t take it lightly! Childhood traumas, first heartbreaks, abuse, past failures, loss….these are just some of the events that you’re going to have to relive. Most of us don’t want to think about them, and even if we choose to write about them…our hope is to be able to do it from a safe distance without the fear of being pulled back in and eaten by the monster under the bed known as “Regret.”

Unfortunately, [great] writing requires that we conquer fears. It demands that we face who we are with honest and accepting eyes, so that we can tell our truth. Not only because the hidden, ugly truths of our hearts will greatly influence and possibly even bring relief to others who are experiencing or have experienced the same tragedies, but also because sharing those truths will bring relief to us.

There’s a burden that is lifted the first time you can express the deepest, darkest parts of yourself without fear or reservation. There’s a weight that immediately dissipates and is replaced by a breath you had no previous knowledge of holding. Truth is a beautiful, magical, and powerful thing that can wage wars and host tea parties all in the same afternoon. Let it wash over you like a spa, not like an avalanche. Be honest in who and what you are and what you’ve experienced.

And honesty…..should not just be with the hard truths…but with the fun ones as well. Tell us the joy you’ve experienced; share the blessings that have been made manifest in your life. The easy truths offer hope where the hard truths offer redemption. We need both. We need your story. The real story.

Anything else…just creates more barriers and pain.

Your truths will hurt people you love. Expect that. But it will free them too…even if they don’t see it that way at the time. You can’t allow yourself to stay locked up inside to satisfy the needs of another person. Other than unfair, it is also unwise. When you choose to remain in bondage, you are justifying the bondage of others. But when you allow yourself freedom, you are justifying the right for others to be free as well.

So…have faith, take courage, and hold to the truth. There’s only one. And it demands to be spoken.

In honor of the special occasion of Mother’s Day here in the United States, I am going to debut a piece from “A Memoir” written in honor of my mother. I pray that you hear the truths behind the words, and that it encourages you to find your own.



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