Beauty and terror

Got a problem? Write, email or leave a message for Joey at News & Review. Give your name, telephone number (for verification purposes only) and question—all correspondence will be kept strictly confidential.
Write Joey, 1124 Del Paso Blvd., Sacramento, CA 95815; call (916) 498-1234, ext. 1360; or email
“True Stories and Margaritas,” a reading co-hosted by Under the Gum Tree and Hippocampus literary magazines, will be held on Saturday, October 20 at La Venadita in Oak Park, 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Writers from both publications will read from their work, including Joey. Join us!

I am on disability for psychological reasons related to being sexually abused during childhood. Through good therapy I developed insight, skills and coping strategies. I want to be a writer. Writing is a doorway to my most intimate self. I have some talent but don’t know what to do with it. I tell myself: “Just write for you!” My childhood created an adult who literally cringes when people walk past my front windows. How do I keep avoidance and mistrust from shackling my authentic voice so I can write with less fear, regardless of outcomes?

Your childhood trauma might not be the reason you struggle to write with the freedom you imagine possible. Most creative people wrestle against restraints. Some obstacles are self-imposed, the result of family or friends urging them to consider arts a hobby, and not a career path. Culturally, the arts are not embraced with the same enthusiasm as say, sports, and that can be intimidating to creatives. A physical or psychological challenge also creates difficulty, as you already know. And, many truly talented people don’t see themselves clearly, so they believe they are not good enough. You are not alone in the effort to understand your creative longing and to express it. You are a member of a tribe that is essential to human consciousness.

One step toward writing freely is to release your struggle toward self-expression from the thought that is the result of childhood trauma. It might be. It might not be. But settling on the idea as reality gives you a place to stay stuck. Instead, see the beauty and the terror you have lived through as a source to draw from as you write. Write a memoir and be a guide to how to live despite a debilitating trauma. Or write your life story as fiction and pen changes in your story that give you joy. Or write a how-to-thrive-as-me book and publish one copy to read to yourself when you feel lost and frightened. That could be enough. If it isn’t, you will know what to write next to take yourself forward.

It’s also helpful to establish a writing practice. Set aside a time to write. Build self-trust by showing up for yourself as promised. Write anything that comes to mind, but keep writing. Start by setting a timer for 10 minutes. Allow it to be all the time you need. Remind yourself that you have a writing practice. You don’t have to be perfect or do it perfectly. You just have to be you. One book that helped me is write with abandon is, The War of Art: Winning the Inner Creative Battle, by Steven Pressfield. Read it as a sacred text, not as a self-help book. That means when you get to the end, start over at the beginning and read it again. And again. Let its wisdom open the seams of your soul and you will fill pages and pages with the stories only you can tell.

Meditation of the Week

“You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have,” said Maya Angelou. What are you doing with your life?