Wednesday, July 24, 2013

FYV/PTA: Telling Difficult Stories

One of the goals I set in taking the Find Your Voice workshop was to find a way to tell difficult stories - the stories of times where I felt like crying or where I felt like my world was falling apart. Once I decided that I would use the workshop to explore the possibility of writing a memoir of my life during the last year, it became even more imperative to try to find both the courage and a style for telling difficult stories. It's hard (kindof like poking at a painful wound and then sharing the experience), and I'm not sure I will get there by the end of the eight week workshop.
Last week, though, I decided to try poetry as a first step in getting something on paper about a difficult time. And it worked. I'll post the poem I wrote later this summer. I promise. Once I work up the courage for that.
In the meantime, I was contemplating the prompt for Day 13 of Passport to Art which is about confronting hardships, and I decided to write a poem about what happened when my mom passed away during my summer travels. This week in Find Your Voice, the lesson is about trying different design styles. I decided to emulate the design style of Sian Fair of From High in the Sky (here's a sample of her work) and Julie Kirk of Notes on Paper (for example, this art journal page). Both tend to use printed text and a lot more white space than I do - they're also masters of clustered embellishments.
I wrote a poem and designed my page, with lots of white space and printed text (not a handwritten item in sight!).  I like how it came out and even though I haven't been able to write a full prose version of either this difficult time or the one I worked on last week, I feel like these poems are stepping stones to being able to tell the stories I want to.
Here's my poem:
When mom passed away
I wasn't there
I was
in Dublin.
Weeks before 
I had said my good-byes
I knew it wouldn't be long
But still
I left.
I returned home for the funeral
to say more good-byes
And then 
I left
for London
when mom passed away.
I welcome any input you have on telling difficult stories.


Amy said...

I have to say, I avoid a lot of difficult subjects in my scrap pages and certainly on the blog. Last year I started to branch out with more challenging topics in my scrap pages and when it came to the decision time for printing them within my photobook I bit the bullet and included them.

I think poetry is a superb way to capture feelings and your piece today is evocative and sensitive.

For me, I have found just blurting it out onto a page or even a draft on a blog post was helpful. Using a digital format made it easy to erase because sometimes, even though I think sharing is what I want, it isn't ... it is writing it down to validate my feelings that is the process I want more.

Textile Recycler said...

Using any media or forum that you are comfortable with to get your feelings out is the way to go. Whether anyone likes it or not shouldn't matter. I think if you do it for yourself and are happy with the results, others will agree. I have used writing, even written something only in my head and it solved my problem.

In your poem, I feel your angst and the pain of your decisions..I hope writing it has brought you some peace. If this works for you, keep doing it. Peace & blessings..textilerecycler

Irene said...

I try to keep my personal or sensitive subject matter to myself. But there are times that I do talk about them to my husband and my Godmother. They are the two people I know I can trust with my personal secrets. They are good listeners and do not tell me what to do but they do give good advise. As for putting them down in a journal, I'm not ready for that.

Unknown said...

Beautiful!! The poem and the page are gorgeous, and you sharing it is very brave. Good luck getting out more tough stories, and curious to hear more about your memoir!

Lesley G said...

Beautiful, so beautiful. Luckily I don't have many difficult stories to tell but if I do I hope to be able to put it as beautifully as you have :)

scrappyjacky said...

I tend to keep personal and difficult subjects off most of my scrap pages...and wouldn't feel able to share many of them on my blog either. I think you've made a very brave decision to put difficult stories onto paper....and your poem does it perfectly.

Lou said...

I love how both Sian and Julie inspired you to create this x

Miriam said...

I have shared a few difficult/sad things on my blog and on my pages. When I scrapped with paper I made small books and included them on my page. I know, for me it is the writing that matters, transferring thoughts from head to hand to paper/ screen gets them out of my head. I love what you have done here. When I was young I used to write poetry for the same reasons.

Missus Wookie said...

Difficult decisions and emotions - your poem touched me and reminded me of times I've had to make similar decisions. I have included some painful stuff on pages, sometimes hidden, sometimes alluded to and not printed exactly.

I find the journaling before hand helpful most of the time, but I've not done much about death. Yeah - poking the hurting bits isn't always the most sensible thing to do.

Abi said...

A beautiful, moving and brave poem Rinda. I think it can be so hard to document hard stories. Both in art and on blogs.

Jane said...

I find it extremely hard to put certain things into words especially as it doesn't just affect me. Sometimes though I think we need to let it out it in whatever way is the most comfortable for us.

Deb @ PaperTurtle said...

My dear Rinda ~ I'm glad to know that you are delving into this part of journaling, and I support your decision to do so! You know that I have shared some difficult stories on my blog over the past couple of years. I think as you start venturing into that arena it gets easier to do with time. I found that writing blog posts about difficult subjects was very therapeutic, and not all of my difficult stories ended up actually being published. I chose which ones to write and then keep private, and which ones to share. The amazing thing about our sweet blogging community is that for the most part, it's a safe haven to opening up and then receiving support.

I love the poem you have posted here, and your page. The details are so sweet - your little angel reference really touched me. xo

Jen said...

Very brave Rinda - I have shared a little of my own devastating loss on my blog - and it was a hard choice for me to make - as I didn't want to upset or distress anyone by posting about it. Somehow though it feels as it 'escaped' all on its own - it was and still is, a part of me that I have to face each and every day. And there is no doubt at all in my mind that the kindness and support I received and still receive from the "virtual" world helps me to cope - and writing it down numbs some of the pain each time I make eference to it.
This page is stunning - and I love your Angel reference. Many hugs my friend . J x

alexa said...

I am moved by your thoughtful poem, Rinds, and your reflections on sharing the hard things of our lives. I have often tussled with this myself as regards what I allow others to see. I wish to be authentic, without burdening others; to be truthful, without necessarily sharing the rawness and fullness of the truth. In my Day2Day book, I feel free to include it all, but often hidden behind photos or in little envelopes ...

Sandie said...

This sounds a powerful course, Rinda. Getting in touch with feelings and thoughts can be cathartic but it also takes bravery and trust to put yourself out there.
I love how you journalled this and took inspiration from Sian and Julie. When I wanted to write about something that really touched me I painted over my words. They are there, etched in my memory. The act of writing served its purpose.
Your poem touched me. What was left unsaid, touched just as much.

Carola Bartz said...

Your poem is simple and thus exactly the style that touches and moves.
I have always found that talking was the best for me to tell difficult stories. Since moving to the US my ability to express myself properly has deteriorated, for the "simple" reason that there are two languages in my head, German and English, and none is dominant. I have started to write more in German again since this is the language that holds all the nuances that are necessary and that I will never achieve in English.
Writing on my blog about difficult times isn't easy for me either, although I'd like to, to keep it more authentic and "true".
I think poetry is a beautiful "outlet" to tell difficult stories.

Frances D said...

I can almost hear your voice reciting it.
Writing about really sad and difficult things has never been easy for me.
I worked in Lower Manhattan when the Towers fell back in 2001 - I didn't write about any of it.
I am also interested in writing memoir, and hope to create a series of handwritten & illustrated journals to give my daughter.
Thanks for sharing.

Karen said...

LIke others here, I'm very impressed with your poetry and your courage. Most of my difficult times came long before I started blogging. I've shared them verbally (and sometimes in writing) with others for whom I thought my experience might be helpful, but I don't think I'm willing to publish them on my blog. I've given thought over the years to doing some scrapbook pages about them, but haven't yet done it.

sky-blu-pink said...

I am not good at sharing difficult things, by nature I am a bottler. I admire people who can, as it shows courage and the desire to move on. Thankyou for sharing Rinda.

Unknown said...

Well done for having the courage to write about difficult times. We all face them at some time so you are never alone. I find it difficult to give voice to anything that isn't positive. I was raised that way and do sometimes find it lonely. Who do you turn to if you can't tell anyone anything? Sometimes sharing is a wonderful way of helping to heal but I was taught that sharing like that was complaining or seeking attention (which I FIRMLY believe it IS NOT) and it is difficult to alter your thinking! My way of dealing with it is to talk to myself - crazy I know! Or to mentally write it as a story in third person and then let it go. I have started thinking that maybe I should actually write them down in case there ever comes a day when I do want to share. You should share whatever you are comfortable with and based on the comments above you have a great group of online friends who would be very supportive.

Unknown said...

How brave of you to tackle those things. This is an awesome post.

Melissa said...

Oh Rinda, you've conveyed so much in that short simple poem!

I admire that you're tackling difficult stories - no matter how long it takes. I've only done a few and they took me a long time to get the journaling just right. I think you've seen these already, but here are links to two that come to mind: and I still have much more difficult times I'd like to record, too.

Annie Claxton said...

Wow Rinda, a stunning piece and your poem is so poignant and thought-provoking. Wonderful stuff xOx

Anonymous said...

That's a lovely poem Rinda. I tend to not blog or scrapbook the difficult bits of my/our life but have written one down and found it actually freeing of all the hurt. But that was just one issue, I don't know if it would work with others.