Of the nine in the room, five of us wrote about our childhoods. One feared his father; another suffered violence at the hand of her father; still another was relentlessly abused by both parents; and the other two of us recounted strange behaviors by a parent that still haunt us today.
Divulging our baggage with any semblance of literary quality is a tricky task. We scribble down the hard things, the ugly things, and the things that decades later, we still don’t understand.
One woman claimed she wasn’t writing about her abusive father though his affect on her eked out of every sentence, every scene. Another, a poet, wrote such heady, ethereal images that she almost hid behind them rather than just stating the appalling truth. My tactic is humor. Make a little fun of the hurts and the fears to save us all from the discomfort of reality. But it didn’t. They could see. We all could see.
More than a memoir workshop, it was a therapy session. A compassionate group that split ourselves open on the page and had the courage to hand our blood soaked confessions to each other, for edits, for evaluation. For judgment.
They were kind. My hands shook as I choked on words that offered anything but praise or compassion or agreement. But content aside, writing is a craft to be honed and corrected. We learned to walk the tight rope of critique and consideration. We mastered it.
For six hours we read, listened, spoke gently, helped, and loved. Nine writers who walked into a room of strangers, and walked back out as comrades.
Copyright © 2017 – Paulla Estes