It took me ten years to work up the courage to write about my childhood. In that time, I explored every field except nonfiction, earning an MFA in Creative Writing (Fiction) with a thesis my husband describes as “stories in which girls don’t act quite the way they should”. Fiction was a safety net-a space where I could address my sexual, physical and emotional fears without honestly admitting to them. During workshops of my short stories, I often felt personally attacked as my writing was critiqued. While my peers were
The Letter No One Wrote My Mother was well shared. It had and continues to have international readership. Several of the people it has reached (with your help, thank you!) have contacted me to say that Fact Seven resonates with them. Fact Seven: I am an almost-abuser. I choose every day not to abuse my child. Becoming a parent is terrifying for any number of reasons. For many of us, those fears center around 1) losing ourselves or 2) our child getting hurt. Fact Seven is a combination of those fears.
It’s a shame that writing about past abuse has the power to hurt people in the present. I did not tell anyone in my family my plans to write about my home experience. The Spire is open to the public, my family reads it, some of their friends, colleagues, etc. Two days after posting The Letter No One Wrote My Mother, I have been told that feelings are hurt, and that relations are now strained. Out of courtesy to others, I shouldn’t write these things. I was also told that
I had reason to search for paper. I went looking for clean, lined sheets. In my room, there stands a bookcase filled from the top down with materials related to my life as a writer. The top shelf holds my collection of self-help books, words of wisdom for growing my creative mind and maturing my writerly process. The middle holds the journals I filled with poetry beginning at age six. Then there are foreign language books–German, Arabic and Spanish, because they stimulate my desire to learn more. To continue growing
If you are a reader of Sheila’s Writes a Memoir, I apologize. I’ve taken her memoir down so that I can begin writing the pieces of my own life. Sheila was a great help to me when I first considered writing about my own abuse. She was a separate person with a parallel experience of abuse and sexualization. I could write her story much more safely than my own. Fiction is a wonderful buffer for the exquisitely painful reality of one’s own truth. I am grateful to those of you
Some stories are harder to write than others. Fiction offers a buffer, a safe distance from reality, even when the story lines are harsh or graphic. Life is visceral. I prefer my pretty fictions. Some stories are harder to hear than others, even though we are human in our curiosity. In our inability to look away. I have a true story. It is my creation. Not my birth, but the components of my life that make me who I am. I have wanted to tell it for years. I wanted
Most of my work ends up frozen forever in the limbo just before the final draft. I never seem to take that step of polishing a piece until it shines, all its complications in place for the reader’s pleasure. I have a fear of commitment. If the story is done, the time has come to send it out to people who are not my friends, from whom honesty is not so easy to accept. I have several writing goals this year. Among them is actually submitting my work. I don’t