Writing Healing Narratives
A workshop by Paulette Bates Alden
For people who want to take the raw material of their life experiences and shape it into narratives that have the power to move and heal.
The desire to tell one’s story is an ancient and honorable one. Instinctively people feel the need to express and communicate what has happened to them, how it felt, what it means. Unlike the flux of life itself, stories have form — a beginning, middle, and an end. By writing our stories fully and complexly — whether in memoir, short stories or novels — we have the opportunity to gain control over painful material and come to a symbolic resolution which can help us heal and move on. Paradoxically, writing is a way to both hold on — in the sense of honoring and even memorializing our losses — and also to let go. Once we have found the right images, details, language and structure, and have created a story, a concrete object, a work of art, we feel emotionally relieved.
Participants in this workshop will be invited to write their stories and will be introduced to elements of a healing narrative drawn from recent research and other writers’ experiences as well as the instructor’s. The instructor will offer helpful exercises on how to get started and keep going, how to shape stories, the use of metaphor and imagery, and how to trust one’s own sense of what to do. Participants will read examples of literature dealing with loss, mourning and healing, share their work-in-progress with a respectful group of fellow writers, have an individual conference with the instructor, and take time for themselves.
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