Writing and Memory
Although I was looking for an image to introduce the topic about which I wanted to write, this is the one that made most sense to me. I hesitated to use it because I’d used it just last month for a poem about memory. So, I went and looked up the poem I had written. It may be found here: https://soulsmusic.wordpress.com/2019/04/23/healing-of-memory/
After reading it and the comments that were made after posting, I decided it was the very best image for this entry as well. I have been engaged in writing about a past experience in which one of my poems was selected as the anchor piece for an anthology about men and women growing old together. The anthology was very popular and was made into a set of tapes in which twenty of the written pieces were read by actresses and actors. My poem was again the anchor piece for the set of tapes, and was read by Ed Asner. And the set of tapes was nominated for a Grammy Award in the “Spoken Word” category.
No we didn’t win, but that brush with celebrity changed my life on an incredible number of levels, including teaching at the University from which I graduated and most of the Fine Arts Schools in the area where I lived. I was also nominated for and became the moderator of the longest established poetry group in Southeastern Wisconsin. And was asked to write my own column in a local magazine. To say that my life was impacted by the experience doesn’t even come close to all of the doors that opened up afterward.
Within the telling of the story, I also found myself writing about an experience I had in college. One that impacted me almost as deeply as that other experience. You see, I made a decision back there, that I would never write poetry again. It wasn’t a conscious decision, I never spoke of it to anyone. I simply closed the door and walked away. And never realized just how painful that whole following year had been. I’d had a dream and it was totally shattered by an Instructor at the end of the semester. A man who gleefully told me that I’d never write really good poetry. That I was a middle-aged woman still raising kids, and yes, I’d probably, on occasion, write a poem or even two, much like other women knit socks.
I did tell the man exactly what I thought of him before leaving his office, even laughing as I did so. But, I walked away knowing that I wanted nothing to do with anything that might contribute to my becoming anything like him. Circumstances intervened and I did find myself writing poetry again, and found a Mentor who actually supported and helped me dust off that small dream which still energizes my existence. But in writing the story, I realized that I had never really done the work of healing that long ago memory. So much so, that I found myself questioning every word I was writing.
This incident happened before I made the conscious decision to keep a daily journal. Normally, if I get foggy or indecisive about something, I can go back in my journal and find the details there. But for this one I can not do that. What I am finding is that it is sorely testing my ability to finish writing the story I have been working on. All the feelings come flooding back and I can and do feel the pain and rage that was never worked on back there, but still remains in my memory. It is murky at best, just like the flooded element in the image. Mainly because the same man created another incident that almost had me quitting College in my final two years of study. I refused to let him win, back there, but I’m afraid that he might win now, after all the years since then.
So, it’s back to the drawing board. For me, the healing of memories most often includes writing. It also includes Forgiveness. At the moment, I don’t want to forgive. But, I also know that I must do that for the equilibrium of my own soul and spirit. I do know that I can ask for the willingness to be willing to forgive. So that is where I will begin because if I don’t, I might never be able to finish writing this current story.
And, as I’ve said before, story is good medicine. I truly want others, especially women, to know that the impossible is possible. If I’m not proof of that, I don’t really know anyone who is. I got myself out of an abusive marriage, I created a life centered around the thing I most love to do, and I’m a fairly good story teller to boot. That alone tells me that I am more willing than not.
Do you have memories that interfere with your ability to write? Do you allow them to block that activity?