Monday, September 28, 2009

To write or not to write...about the past?

I've stated before that I knew as a child that I wanted to be a writer! It was not by choice, necessarily, but part of me- I have to write. I tried my hand at other things: working retail, thought of becoming a police woman, studying to become a juvenile probation officer, working in schools and then working as a migrant educator. With each position or journey I found something to write about and encouraged others around me, adults and children alike, to find the story within them to put down on paper. I always wanted to write and to inspire everyone I met.

The art of storytelling has always been my passion. I love to hear, read, write, or think of a great story. When I hear music I always picture a scene or create an entire premise for a novel centered around that particular song.

It is frustrating to invest my time in watching a movie that appears to be good and then, it just ends! We, writers, know what I am talking about. We've thought about how we would've ended it had it been our story up there on the silver screen.

Well, I am writing this post after having to deal with some troubles from my past; troubles as in people, as in some that I had once trusted and loved. I grew up accepting some extreme criticism and swallowed some incredible lies by people I wanted to love me as much as I loved them. I was forced to because I was a child and they were the adults. I was the next generation and NOT their equal! I grew up learning to hide my pain for the sake of not making anyone uncomfortable and acknowledging that anything could be wrong. I saw many people in my Latina life eat away their feelings as a means to cope. As I grew older I recognized the ones who consoled themselves with alcohol and drugs, amongst other addictions.

About five years ago, I made a tremendous break from the certain people who had succeeded in diminishing my soul since childhood. I saw that it was beginning to happen to my eldest child. I knew in my heart that I couldn’t call myself a good mommy if I allowed her spirit to break as my mine had. I prayed for answers for so many decades and finally, a painful, but poignant opportunity came and I knew it was now or never!

Shortly after that break, I saw some extended family who asked how I endured the grief all those years. This was the first time any of my pain had been acknowledged by anyone outside of my own head! I didn't know what to say, but did what I do a lot when I reflect upon it and cried my eyes out. Maybe I took it to be the good daughter and not make any waves for my parents. I saw my mom eat away her pain and I felt that I should do the same. I remember being in third grade and knowing that what was happening was not normal or right, but I was told to try MY best to ignore it. I did try, but now, as a wife, mom, and adult I realized that my mind tried to ignore it, but my heart recorded every detail of each wrong and replays it for me whenever I feel most vulnerable!

To escape my pain, I'd lie on my bed or bedroom floor staring at the ceiling while I created stories. I decided early on that one day I'd get back at the evil people by making them the villains in my stories. Sometimes, if I was especially hurt, they wouldn't have a chance to redeem themselves and I'd make their painful inflictions on me very obvious in my stories. I grew up believing, one day I'll break away and write it all out! In my mind I held a fantasy- probably hope- that they'd read my story, identify their character and either apologize and make up for the pain they inflicted, or the other people around them would realize how bad of a person they really were/are! As I grew up and started my own family, I still struggled with these ideas. I wanted to write it out, but when I kept a personal journal on this stuff it was exhausting enough to write it on a few pages, let alone an entire story about the pain.

Now, I appreciate all that I have gone through for it has made me the stronger, wiser woman that I am today. I think that I have a deeper appreciation for children because of what I endured throughout my youth. Sadly, because of the example that was set for me to ignore the pain I ended up struggling with a few relationships as I entered young adulthood. I picked friends and mates who did not have the best intentions in their hearts for me. I wanted to be loved so much that I stayed in these destructive relationships to try to prove that I could conquer the bad…finally! I had to learn to let go of them and release me so that I could finally grow and love myself.

As I embark on this new adventure in my life of finally seeking my passion of turning my writing into a career, I had a major stumbling block last week where the evil-doers of my past tried to ruffle my feathers again. Now, instead of lying on my bed and creating a story to get back at them, I became paralyzed and my creative flow started to cease because I allowed all of those old, destructive things to occupy my mind once again!

I have a spouse who stands by my side and urges me to continue with my writing! I have a wonderful friend and well, I guess, writing colleague, mentor, cheerleader whom I shared some of the details of last week's hurdles with. As it turned out, she, too, needed to vent about her week which really got me thinking.

We are creative people trying to make a living using our passion to entertain, educate, and inspire others. Whether we are song-writers, literary writers, painters, artists, comedians, etc. we have the chance to get back at those who hurt us through our work! People always tell me to write about my life and what I have endured! Get it out and maybe I can help another child or another woman who suffers from the crippling lack of self-confidence! Should I? I mean really, would you? Do you share the ugly truth?

We've all heard the songs written by the scorned lover. Yeah, Taylor Swift, I think, has written a few. They aren't as harsh as some others I can recall, such as "I don't want you back!" by Eamon. To that his ex, Frankee, responded with "F.U.R.B."!

I have tried hard to focus on a positive place in my life for my family and for me. I let go of the idea of seeking revenge disguised as literature a few years ago. How do song writers do it? I used to worry about being sued, but I have read, read, and read some more on the subject. I know about changing names and even the details of the event that occurred. My worry now is about how I will feel. I hear all the time to write what you know and to write from the heart. I always do that and sometimes that's why I feel so exposed. At the same time, I believe that's why I have the ability to touch the soul within others. They see that my words are real and they can relate.

As I write this post, I struggle with the idea of hitting the delete button, but my heart tugs at me to go forward and share for the mere fact that maybe one other person might need to read this today or can share some insight with me. I struggle with writing about my painful past because I don't want to hurt anyone, regardless of the pain that was forced upon me. I want to believe that my life has a purpose and my goal is to live my best life and inspire others. So, here I am at a crossroads. Do I take the route to my other fiction stories or do I tap into the "real" and uncover my raw emotions? Maybe that story could inspire someone, right?

Do artists struggle to paint something painful from their life knowing that it might upset someone else? Do they sometimes want to take the face of an enemy and paint it as an evil witch- hat, warts, and all? If you do, does it release the pain and allow you to move on? I am seeking peace and maybe I just worry too much!

I am just thankful for those of you who've contacted me recently to encourage me to continue with my writing. Right now, it is harder, but more meaningful than I could have imagined! Maybe I will dig deep and write it out. Maybe I will have the strength to share my story one day and still find a way to have peace and love myself in the process!

I have come to learn that artists are a sensitive bunch, but I think it's because we have heightened senses in order to bring to life the passion we have bursting within us!  I wish all of you, creative creatures, much peace with yourselves and confidence in your work!

Wishing you all dreams to fulfill and the inspiration needed to do so!

~the sol within~

Give it a listen! The songs that inspired this post:
~The Greatest by Jimmy Eat World
~How to Save a Life by the Fray
~I Didn't Know My Own Strength by Whitney Houston
~Everything’s Gonna Be Alright by Father MC


  1. To write or not write (about the past), that is the question. Well what can be the answer? Let's take a two pronged approach. Let's say we'll write about the past as painful and searing as the events were. This is possible, it can even be therapeutic. Write down what occurred in a journal. Keep it there, leave it there. Shut the journal's cover, then walk away. Far, far away and wait , go back and read it. Trust me this can be as painful as the memories themselves, but it can save your sanity. Now when we look at this writing and see, hmm, maybe we can write about this openly then we decide: do we use actual names, places, and events, or do we choose anonymity. Can we switch names, remove names, limit what we decide to openly publish but will it still frame the story I hope to tell? That decision is up to you. This was something I contemplated when I wrote about my past. It's still something I contemplate about every time I feel I'll be writing anything autobiographical. There's just things in our lives we prefer to just leave out. What's the second approach? Well, you just say "to hell with it" and write the whole damn thing anyway. Though this is the most extreme approach if you hold no fears for what the feedback will be for publishing with such candor then as Nike so exclaims, "Just Do It". My personal approach would be former, take the time to write out what needs to be written out and then decide what should and shouldn't be published and how.

    I'll be waiting for this novel, when it comes out so first dibs on the 1st Edition signed copy :)

    Ciao for now!


  2. Thank you, Belle, for sharing your wisdom on this difficult subject for a new writer...or any writer! I have decided to really commit to finishing this novel, if not for publication, for my own peace, as you said.

    Wishing you much peace through your own storytelling,