Elizabeth Kirschner

Writing Mentor / Manuscript Consultant


"A poem begins in delight and ends in wisdom"

-Robert Frost

(207) 439-7380

 

WRITING ABOUT TRAUMA:

Surely all art is about having been in danger,
of having gone through an experience all the way to the end,
to where no one can go any further.
                                                        
~~Rilke’s letters on Cezanne

Having experienced intense trauma and having written about trauma extensively, as well as having guided others in writing about it, I know that getting one’s story down onto the page in an artful manner is a powerful means to debilitate its impact on one’s well being. Writing about violence, illness or loss that either oneself or a loved one has undergone enables poetry or nonfiction to become a strategy, not to just survive, but to reclaim the innate wholeness we were born with. It is a human triumph to give form and substance to extreme experience and a profoundly redemptive act by which the writer creates his or her own salvation. By writing our way into, through and out of trauma we move from what I term “The Minefield of Memory” into tillable gardens.

When doing such work it is a primary need for the writer to feel emotionally safe. I provide that emotional safety through my deep capacity to listen and read about extreme trauma empathetically. Craft is the means by which we make our stories bearable for ourselves and our readers and I am well-practiced in enabling other writers to employ the particular strategies which will enable them to achieve this end. Every articulation is a divine articulation even when we are writing about trauma and by doing so we are no longer our ghosted past, but present to who we truly are.

As there is ample evidence about the value of this work. Here are two quotes:

The benefit is in creating a story that links together the emotional
memories. Making these traumatic events more coherent makes
memories of these events less likely to be repetitively called to mind,
and so they can be laid to rest.
                                               
~~Art Markman, Psychology Today

 Writing about trauma might also be helpful because it allows
the victims to reprocess their experience from a safe place,
enabling them to experience a type of mastery and control
over their traumatic memories. The act of repetition, the conscious
going over of trauma-related events and reactions to those
events, also seems to reduce the intensity of trauma reactions.
                                               
~~Jane Collingwood