We’ve heard this, right? In order to feel the joy, you have to feel the sorrow. If you shut off one part of yourself, you are shutting off being fully alive. How you relate to your emotional life is going to affect your writing and creativity.
Poetry has been the greatest facilitator of the big emotions for me. Journal writing and painting are close seconds. I’ve learned that as I’m able to be present with an emotion, I then pass through that territory. I come out the other side intact and a bit more integrated.
To be an effective writer, finding a way to say “I feel sad” without explicitly stating “I feel sad,” comes with practice.
Below is an excerpt from a piece I wrote in 2011. My parents had died six months apart following several years of their decline and concurrent family disruption.
“I stopped at Burger Express. It seemed like a burger was called for. Single patty with cheese, no special sauce, no onions. Yes to catsup. Yes to small fries. No book to read. Waiting for my order. Staring out at the falling snowflakes. Staring out at nothing. Squinting and staring at signs across the street. Staring. The wait person calls my number. I take the red tray and head towards a little tucked-away table. A man sitting at the counter asks “Are you going to share half of that with me?” I recognize an acquaintance’s warm voice. I stop to say hello and tell him that my Mom died last week. I am telling everyone it seems. Now, the cook, cashier and waitperson at Burger Express know too. He is sorry. His Dad died a year ago. His Mom, 84, lives an hour south of here. Everything is so tentative. He gives me a big hug in his bear arms. “If there is anything I can do, let me know.” He adds “Seriously.” I thank him. How I’d like to be held in strong arms for half a day. I think that would really help. It gets old, this wrapping my own arms around myself all the time.”
In this short excerpt, do you get a sense of my grief? Did writing about this help me? In some odd way, yes. I wasn’t in denial of these feelings and I found refuge through writing these words.
How do you write about the feeling of sadness? Typically, this type of writing is only for you. Do you allow yourself to fully express your sadness in writing, poetry or painting or any other creative outlet?