Today, I generally don’t find writing adverse. Although there are times when the face of adversity may be your editor’s. On the contrary, writing can be a way of dealing with adversity. Journaling is one of the best examples of this. There is something about putting things down in black and white that can help us to change our world and the way we feel about it. Thinking about the things that we’re concerned about, especially trying to think about them in a different way from a different perspective can be helpful. And certainly talking about them can help. But there’s something about putting them down in black and white that makes them more real. It forces us to accept what has happened and to look more clearly at what we are dealing with.
Over my many years in this profession, I have had an opportunity frequently to write about what I do, whether it was summarizing a research study or debating the pros and cons of a particular program, or a way of approaching a particular problem. This kind of writing I have, in general, found easy to do. This is not to say that preparing an article for publication in a professional journal is easy. It isn’t. I certainly admire my colleagues who make it look easy.
What I have found more difficult is writing fiction. I never appreciated the difficulties in writing a novel until I tried to write one. My first effort, Reaching Home, was published in 2006. The theme of the novel was, as my colleagues told me, resilience. Since that time, I have conducted over 50 workshops using storytelling and the novel as primary tools in teaching the skills and the attitudes of resilience. The program and the novel were put together in a workbook entitled Duct Tape Isn’t Enough, that was published in 2009. This workbook gives participants an opportunity to write about themselves and about the characters in the novel, Reaching Home. It gives readers an opportunity to tell their own story, if they choose to. Just like with Pennebaker’s research on journaling, readers can write about the difficult things that they had dealt with in their life and learn from their experiences, as well as discharge some of the feelings that they have been holding on to.
During the past three years, I’ve been working on a second novel. It will contain a number of the characters from Reaching Home, and I’m sure some of my colleagues will say that one of its main themes is resilience. I’ll be talking more about it in my next blog.