Writing Exercise

You are invited to take a moment, putting your feet flat on the floor. Straighten your spine if you can. Sit up straight. Situate yourself in your body. This is your body. But it is more than your body. It is also a vault of moments. You are the only one with this vault. Not everything is a door. Sometimes it’s a window. You’ve changed the locks many times. There’s a hallway. The lightbulb is always burned out. Shadows litter the walls. You are standing in that dark hallway with a long row of doors on the left and right. Every door is a memory. A hard one. Perhaps that’s why the light is always out. But you are here to gain access to those hard memories without it abrading your spirit. You realize part of the difficulty is how close you are to the hurt. It’s difficult to have objectivity. Like the island of Cyprus, when there is a war, the other side is always responsible for what happened. But what if you open one door, any door, toward a memory that doesn’t make you feel powerful and rather than be in the scene, let’s have you direct it. Give the actors their lines. Turn it into a romantic comedy if you like. A tragic comedy? A skit. I’m inviting you to take some of the sting out of it. Perhaps you tell the story the way a sports announcer would, or a comedian. This is not to minimize. I swear. It is to inoculate you against it. Comedians deserve high praise in my opinion for finding ways to bring levity to things that we would otherwise shriek about. It’s not that the situation is funny. It’s that we still deserve to punch a hole in tragedy and find ways to survive the hard stuff. Write from memory but give it some distance. Just far enough to keep the blood off your clothes. I know it may sound counterintuitive and in no way is this an exercise in minimizing. It is just an opportunity to relate to your story from an aerial view. Take your time with this one. Trust the process. The goal is distance and objectivity. This is for you to gain access to your story through another door.

Every writer is a magician. I can tell my story and give you the widest sense of who I have been and who I am and still write victories for myself that I wasn’t granted when the story was happening in real time. Why not?

Well…actually…tomorrow we should dig into why some argue we have an obligation to accuracy more than memory.