The process of writing and listening to others read reminded me of the therapeutic and transformational power of storytelling and writing. It’s why I started the storytelling group on Cortes Island in 2012. I moved before it really took off, but I knew that in the glut of boorish writing and stories available to us all over the internet, in magazines, and on TV, the personal narrative always has the ability to cut right through the raw, the real, the undeniable humanness of us all. It’s powerful. It’s transformational. And writing it and hearing it is downright therapeutic.
For people who are still grappling with emotions from painful and/or traumatic life stories, this can be extremely difficult.
How can a writer step out of his or her own stories enough to get the observer’s perspective while still writing from the intimacy of that knowing? For people who meditate, this might be easier as meditation is a daily practice of observing and witnessing our emotional and mental circuses.
The process of trying to create a story—as opposed to journalling—keeps the writer in a dance with his or her material. The process of creating the story—a story interesting enough to keep readers engaged—helps create the objectivity and the distance needed. And yet, the material is being worked through, not over, so that as the final draft approaches, the writer has a sense of having processed deeply and of being clearer and healthier. The fact that the writer didn’t gloss over the difficult stuff is evident in the way that the characters and the plot have been developed and in the emotions that also arise in the listeners and readers.
The listener and/or reader also has the sense of being led through pain and into understanding. Listeners and readers may also experience recognition of themselves or of friends or family within the story, which makes the story’s lessons relatable. The words and the story form the cocoon; the writer metamorphoses as do any listeners and readers who relate to the story. I see it as nothing short of magic.
Meet the Editor
I'm Coreen, and I am a copy editor, writer, instructor, digital marketer, and student of PR and Communications for organizations doing positive work in the world.