Last week’s exercises in my non-fiction creative writing class were interesting ones. We were asked to list obsessions and strong memories, then expound on them. A collective sigh came from the four of us until the juices started flowing inspiring each of us to become absorbed in our unique internal lives.
Early on it became clear that this assignment would offer each other glimpses into who we are. We met as strangers from different parts of the area and today we’d share intimacies – because of a writing exercise.
A single woman in her early 30s struggles with a driving desire to find herself, to one-day have the courage to leave her job of 12 years and follow her dream. Trouble is, she can’t identify that dream. Maybe this writing class will coax that passion to the surface. Or maybe writing will help her understand why each new relationship ends up falling apart as she wonders on paper whether this current beau will stand the test of time. She’s plagued by the need to compare herself to peers with husbands and children which feeds a certain panic in her soul. Now we understand her a bit better.
The woman to my right obsesses about her weight and writing and, hopefully, earning money from her prose. She used to be a teacher and grew very frustrated with the politics of education and students’ lack of interest. She yearns for the day when the solitary hours spent putting thoughts on paper will be validated with a check in the mail. She and her husband are retired and she struggles with the balance of taking care of him and the urge to spill herself into her fingers on a keyboard.
Then there’s the woman whose childhood trauma sparked a love for poetry. Pouring her tortured heart onto paper somehow eased the pain of losing her mother when she was nine years old. A drunk driver slammed head on into the family car while her mother was at the wheel. While this girl waited outside the car for an ambulance to arrive she remembers hearing her mother gurgling, still trapped behind the steering wheel. Those injuries proved fatal. The father spent days in the ICU recovering from his physical injuries, though his heart never healed. So that nine-year old girl and her siblings were shipped out to be cared for by others. Today this now grown woman has a deep story to tell and skimmed the shallow surface with us.
As for me, I wouldn’t say I have obsessions, per se, what I have are driving passions, one of them is horses. Though I’ve never owned a horse, I usually find a way to be around them; lately it’s volunteering at a horse rescue where we rehabilitate neglected and abused horses. This past week I also attended horse camp where we brushed up on our riding skills mounted on Paso Finos and Tennessee Walking Horses. Their strides are smooth as velvet and much easier on the legs and back.
They say that horses are windows into your soul and maybe that’s why I’m filled with emotion when grooming them. Watching their powerful, graceful bodies prance around a pasture fills me with awe.
There are a lot more stories inside us waiting to be coaxed to the surface. We humans are fascinating creatures – each with a unique story to tell to the right listener who extends a sincere invitation.
What are some of your stories?