The Healing Power of Writing

by J James

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Posted by JJames
This is the first time I have written a blog and to be honest I spent quite some time thinking about what I should write about. Why would anyone want to listen to me I kept thinking?! But I guess that is no reason not to write. We have the same feelings when we first put pen to paper when writing our books. Do we write because of other people or do we write because it gives something to us as authors? Well I thought I would share the beginning of my journey to publication and over the coming weeks I will share my experiences of writing, publishing and the biggest challenge of all – marketing my book.

For those who don’t know the content of my book it tells the story, (my story essentially), of coming to terms with my own homosexuality whilst in a marriage to my childhood sweetheart. 13 years into our relationship, I came out – yep, just about as abruptly as that. No build up, no signs, no warnings, no arguments or clear signs of a failed relationship, (from the point of view of others anyway). And I think the abruptness of it all had a very damaging effect on me, (the effect on my wife deserves a whole novel of its own understandably). I don’t think I ever actually faced up to what I had done or to the impact it was going to have. That was until I started writing the book.

The book was born from a request from the priest dealing with my annulment to write a supporting statement. Six pages later and I started to see just complex and damaging the past 15 or so years had been to me. Failing to accept my homosexuality from a very young age had left its mark and as the ink started to flow so did the emotions. I realised that I couldn’t be alone in my feelings and that hundreds of men (and now I have come to learn, many women), must have experienced something similar. So I guess initially the desire to write was twofold – partly to reach out and connect with other men who may have experienced something similar, but more importantly it seemed cathartic for me to write. Sitting in Starbucks with my ipad I relived each moment of my life and sometimes shocked myself with my previous behaviours. I cried at the sad times, cringed at some points and laughed at others. It was like a total out of body experience. I felt like I watching/reading/writing about someone else’s life. It was as if an author had possessed my mind and body and forced the locked up thoughts and experiences out of me.

I never planned the content order of the book. I rarely thought about the material and only briefly edited it – how could I? It was my life. There was no storyboard or fancy writing techniques used. Just my memories which maybe led to the raw quality that some of my readers have favoured. The whole writing process was a year’s worth of therapy sessions – without the need to pay. During the writing process I hurt myself through recounting my actions. I upset myself from recalling the bitter pain I caused to others but most importantly – I also healed myself from talking out loud, (well putting it down in writing anyway). The beauty of therapy is not in the therapy itself. I’m not underestimating the role of the therapist but it is the opportunity to talk out loud that is the real healer. How our thoughts and actions sound when locked up inside of us is completely different from when we actually verbalise that thinking. The words we put to those thoughts are so powerful and generate a whole wealth of emotions that can eventually lead to recovery.

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