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December 17, 2012 / diannegray

Writing is cathartic

I wrote this last week and was going to post it Friday, but because the content and the reason why I started writing and why I entered my first competition was so closely aligned to a tragedy I didn’t post it.

Before I begin I would like to send my love and condolences to the families of the victims of the horrific and senseless crime in Newtown CT. Robin Cole has provided us with the address of the Sandy Hook Elementary School if you would like to send a card or letter expressing your sorrow, support, and condolences.

Strangely enough, I began writing many years ago after hearing about a particularly horrific crime. My entire writing career began in an attempt to justify in my own mind why some people find it so easy to kill. Because of the shock, I needed an outlet to appease my complete lack of faith in humanity and so I started to write (and write and write and write)!

Why

I found that the story began to take shape and focus on inter-connections in nature. Everyone and everything in the universe is connected and those who have feeble or broken connections were the focus of my story. They were the ones who could not connect in a human way – and to kill another was as easy to them as tearing up a photograph. The ideas in the story are far too complex to go into here, but I can tell you – it’s still sitting in my bottom drawer calling out for me to finish it.

Half way through the story my 10 year-old son came to me and asked what I was doing. I was ignoring my family and spending night after night on the computer. I’d write into the early hours of the morning, have a couple of hours sleep and then start writing again. I was losing contact with the real world and there was little I could do to control it.

I was exhausted.

Exhausted

When I told my son I was writing a story, he asked me if I was a writer. This was an interesting question because I’d never thought of myself as a writer. I didn’t want to tell him that this tragedy had flicked a switch in my brain and if I didn’t try to understand ‘why’ people do these things I would probably end up having a complete breakdown.

I took the plunge and said, ‘Yes, I’m a writer’.

Several weeks later he came to me with a newspaper clipping. He said the mother of one of his friends had given it to him and told him that if I was really a writer I should enter the local writing competition.

I went cold, clammy and dizzy and said, ‘Okay, when do I have to have it in by?’

He waved the paper in front of my face like kids do because they don’t realise as you get older you can’t read flying pieces of paper.

‘Tomorrow,’ he said. ‘It’s a short story competition.’

‘Hmmm, short story.’ I was sweating.  My ruse had been revealed and now I had to admit to my son that I wasn’t really a writer, I was just going mad.

‘I’ve never written a short story,’ I said.

He looked up at me so excited and said, ‘You can do it, mum. I know you can!’

What do you do?

I sat down and wrote a short story.

I managed to get it in on time and then promptly forgot about it, hoping he would too (after all, this mad woman was lying to herself and her children).

When the letter came telling me I’d won first place I thought they had made a mistake.

I told my son and he wasn’t at all surprised. ‘Of course you did!’ he said. ‘You’re a writer.’

I didn’t go back to the novel, but it was very cathartic for me. Now when people are looking for answers to questions that seem impossible to understand, I tell them to just sit down and write. Your writing may not change the world, but maybe it will sort out some the mess and confusion that the world brings into your life.

Do you find writing cathartic?

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168 Comments

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  1. coffee2words / Dec 17 2012 9:36 am

    Great post Dianne :)

    Is this award winning short story available for us to read? Perhaps in one of your Manslaughter and other tears?

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    • diannegray / Dec 17 2012 9:52 am

      It is in Manslaughter and other tears. It’s called ‘Set-up’. I didn’t think to put a link to it 8O

      Like

      • coffee2words / Dec 17 2012 10:53 am

        I shall have to check that one out for sure then :D I have bumped it up the mamoth TBR list to #50…

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      • diannegray / Dec 17 2012 12:11 pm

        LOL! You do read a lot! You’re much better than I am at the TBR list :D

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      • coffee2words / Dec 17 2012 12:27 pm

        Practice makes perfect when it comes to TBR lists… as is evident by my 1700+ strong list ;)

        Happily, you can also rub sholders with other aussie authors on my newly created aussie authors shelf on GR! :D hehe

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  2. robincoyle / Dec 17 2012 9:38 am

    Writing is cathartic. I wish I could find the internal peace to do some writing now.

    Congrats on winning the contest (not surprised here) and thanks for the mention about Sandy Hook’s address.

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    • diannegray / Dec 17 2012 9:55 am

      You’ve done a wonderful thing putting the address on your blog, Robin – so many people want to do something that will express their grief and support for the entire community.

      We all need internal peace right now as well…

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  3. Theo Fenraven / Dec 17 2012 9:39 am

    I write because real life is so often less than pleasant. Cathartic? Not really. Involving, most certainly. In the worlds I create, I have total control, something I often don’t have in real life.

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    • Carrie Rubin / Dec 17 2012 9:48 am

      I second your comment. It is nice to have control in our writing world. And I love making up stories. I suppose it is cathartic on some level, but that’s not why I initially sit down to do it.

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    • diannegray / Dec 17 2012 9:58 am

      Writing does seem to give us a modicum of control, Theo – particularly when the world seems to be spinning out of control.

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  4. Polysyllabic Profundities / Dec 17 2012 9:41 am

    I have always found writing to be the best way to express myself, sort through my emotions and makes sense of the many ideas in my head. it gives them life and it gives me peace.

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    • diannegray / Dec 17 2012 9:59 am

      Beautifully put, Susan. I couldn’t have said it better myself! ;)

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  5. Alastair Rosie / Dec 17 2012 9:46 am

    Yeah cathartic works for me. I write because I’m too stingy to pay for therapy. I have the best hobby in the world. I get to make love to all the beautiful women and if someone upsets me I get to kill them:-) Actually on a serious note. I actually started writing again when dad was on life support, we knew there was no way he’d come out of it and writing was just one way of coping with the pain. I never finished the book but it’s still there waiting for me. Writing for me is therapy, it’s my megaphone for a deaf world.

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    • diannegray / Dec 17 2012 10:06 am

      This made me laugh, Alistair! I’m too stingy to pay for therapy as well! We have control in the writing world and we can always get rid of the bad-guy before he does too much damage. Unfortunately, life is so different…

      I can understand why you started writing again when your father was so ill. Grief is the great leveler and plunging into writing also helps me cope in a way that compares to nothing else.

      “Writing for me is therapy, it’s my megaphone for a deaf world” would have to be one of the best quotes I’ve heard in a long time.

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  6. agjorgenson / Dec 17 2012 9:49 am

    Yes, that is very much the case. Cathartic, expressive, vexing, inspiring, confusing, and so much more; and I think that is the reason I write.

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    • diannegray / Dec 17 2012 10:09 am

      All of the above, Allen. Writing somehow grips you by the neck and leads down a path that is so enchanting you can never turn back (and never want to)…

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  7. jmmcdowell / Dec 17 2012 9:53 am

    I suppose it is cathartic for me at some level. Although much of it is escape from the harsh reality of this world.That may not be a noble reason to write, but it is honest.

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    • diannegray / Dec 17 2012 11:51 am

      There are many reasons to write and I certainly have a lot of them. I like to escape as well and I also have characters that hound me into writing about them. I don’t think I’ve ever had a noble reason to write – it just captures me and takes me there ;)

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  8. LjS / Dec 17 2012 9:56 am

    Well said Dianne.

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  9. Maryanne / Dec 17 2012 10:00 am

    That is such an amazing “meant to be” story!

    Me too, definitely cathartic, especially blogging. I write because in real life I am quiet unless I am around people I truly care about and trust. So writing gives me a voice, whether it’s an article I’m paid for or a blog, I feel totally in control and happy.

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    • diannegray / Dec 17 2012 11:54 am

      I may go back to that story one day, but I’m thinking it may be past it’s ‘use by’ date! :D

      I find writing really cleans my mind of the junk that enters every day and it is cathartic ;) I love the way writing gives you a voice, Maryanne – that is beautiful :D

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  10. Sheila Morris / Dec 17 2012 10:03 am

    Of course, you would write something that touches me deeply tonight after I just finished what tried to be cathartic but still left me dissatisfied with what I’d said and not been able to convey. Pls. go to my blog I’ll Call It Like I See It. You can get there thru Red’s address or at http://www.essayswithhumor.com. or my fb author page. Wherever I hope you find it for an American’s sadness. Thanks for your words in a darker night than usual…

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    • diannegray / Dec 17 2012 11:56 am

      It’s amazing how we try to sort out grief in out minds. I find it’s not good enough just to think about it – I have to put it to paper. It’s just the way my mind works.

      I’m heading over to read I’ll Call It Like I See It now ;)

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  11. JackieP / Dec 17 2012 10:25 am

    I’ve always wrote, journals, stories, poems, anything. It was my way of finding myself in a world of hurt, anger and confusion. When no one would listen to me, I wrote. when I seemed invisible, I wrote. I wrote till my hurt went away, but as you notice I am still writing. I write because when I talk my words don’t seem to be enough.

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    • diannegray / Dec 17 2012 12:00 pm

      Most of the writers I know are not conversationalists, Jackie. I hate speaking to people unless I know them well – but I can write to everyone and anyone and this is where I find my ‘voice’.

      Writing to ‘find yourself’ in a world of hurt, anger and confusion is very cathartic and I’m so glad it has helped you so much. Keep up the good work ;)

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  12. mcwoman / Dec 17 2012 10:35 am

    Yes, I find writing cathartic . . . especially when “heavy” life events come along. Writing is thinking, a way of sorting confusing thoughts. This kind of writing usually doesn’t win prizes for me, but it does even out the disappointments, frustrations and confusions we all encounter as we travel through life. Perhaps that’s why I so rarely write journals when I’m happy. I don’t need to sort out my thoughts — I just enjoy the bliss. I don’t have to analyze that,

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    • diannegray / Dec 17 2012 12:02 pm

      You are SO much like me. I can write volumes when I’m upset or frustrated, but when I’m happy the thoughts only trickle onto the page. You conveyed this feeling beautifully here! :)

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  13. Britt Skrabanek / Dec 17 2012 10:42 am

    Writing has always been therapy for me. When I was young and full of angst my tattered journal was my heart, always there to listen to my ranting. Now that I’m a big girl, with a little less angst, I share my ranting with anyone who cares to listen.

    I don’t know if I’m making a difference or even making sense, but I will share my motto nonetheless…writing is like breathing to me – I can’t live without it.

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    • diannegray / Dec 17 2012 12:06 pm

      So true, Britt. I think most writers would be very sad people indeed if they couldn’t write. We need to sort out the shite in our heads and without that medium life would be very frustrating and limiting because it is like breathing!

      You make absolutely perfect sense to me ;)

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  14. avwalters / Dec 17 2012 10:44 am

    I always wanted to write but life, work, and a high maintenance relationship were forever in the way. Then a series of personal crises forced my hand. I walked out of a long term marriage–empty-handed and broken. A friend mentioned the NaNoWriMo challenge and, well, I didn’t have any reason not to. I dusted off one of the story lines I’d always threatened to develop and got to it. It still took several years–not so much the writing but the editing and the decision to actually take it and go forward–and then it was a book. An award-winning book. Suddenly I was a writer.

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    • diannegray / Dec 17 2012 12:10 pm

      WOW! An award winning book – that sounds like a truck-load of success to me :D Congratulations! It’s amazing how life forces our hand and sometimes when we’re at the lowest of the low we can pull out this gift and create something beautiful from something so awful. Very well done, indeed :D

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  15. Kozo / Dec 17 2012 11:47 am

    Dianne,
    I have to be completely honest even though my honesty might seem inappropriate. While reading your post, my heart stopped a number of times and I gasped, “Oh my God.” These are the same reactions I had when I heard the pieces of news coming out of Newtown. You took me to the depth of your despair that mirrored in so many ways the feelings in America these past few days. The fact that you rose out of that mire and created beauty gives me hope, inspiration, and solace. Thank you for this beautiful message in a time of need. I guess what I am trying to say is that reading your writing is cathartic. {{{Hugs}}}

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    • diannegray / Dec 17 2012 2:14 pm

      This is the reason I didn’t post it Friday afternoon – it just seemed so raw. In my last post I said I was going to tell all about why I was forced into writing for competitions and this is it…

      The happenings in Newtown are sicking and I almost got my manuscript out to continue on it on Saturday. Who knows, I may start working on it later this week to try and get my head around these awful things again :(

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      • Kozo / Dec 17 2012 5:21 pm

        Please do, Dianne. I would love to read that manuscript. I should finish the sentence in my first comment–your writing is cathartic and, therefore, HEALING.
        You and I both know that there are no coincidences. Your posting was perfectly timed. You being “re-minded” of that manuscript is not a coincidence.
        Thank you for the healing in your writing.

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  16. Laith / Dec 17 2012 11:52 am

    Sometimes cathartic, sometimes an escape, sometimes for fun.
    Writing is quickly becoming a very important part of my life, and I don’t know what I did before I started writing more.

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    • diannegray / Dec 17 2012 2:16 pm

      It’s amazing – life before writing seems so far away now! Thanks so much for dropping by to read and comment, Laith :D

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  17. justinwriter / Dec 17 2012 11:52 am

    It’s wonderful your son at that age was so supportive and inspiring.

    The tragedy in Connecticut is so sad. It reminded me of the movie ‘We need to talk about Kevin’. They say these types of murderers often fit a profile and often have three things in common: bed-wetting, animal cruelty and arson. I can’t imagine how the parents and siblings of those killed come to terms with things like this. I know in time their minds will quieten, but in the meantime, they’ll need support.

    Writing clarifies and relaxes our thoughts and emotions, so yeah, I’d say it’s cathartic.

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    • diannegray / Dec 17 2012 2:20 pm

      My son is wonderful (in fact all my children are very supportive of my writing). I often wonder how these things unfold and what I would be doing now if I didn’t have that initial burst of writing to try and sort out my mind.

      Newtown is an absolute tragedy and it’s going to take a long time for the entire world to recover – I’m sure it will lead a lot of people down the road to depression and we need to find something – whether its a lesson or a feeling – so we can climb out of this darkness.

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  18. The Bumble Files / Dec 17 2012 12:03 pm

    I enjoyed this Dianne. It’s interesting how our children can give us a little push in this way. I’d say you won the competition because you’re a talented writer. That’s a great message to write to sort things out. I’ve been tempted to write about recent events for that reason, even though it seems like it may be too much to post. Maybe I will just write it for myself. Good idea.

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    • diannegray / Dec 17 2012 5:39 pm

      I purely write this kind of stuff for myself – it’s certainly not share-worthy ;) It’s always good to write purely to sort things out in your head, no one needs to read it and sometimes it puts a lot of things into perspective ;)

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  19. harulawordsthatserve / Dec 17 2012 12:57 pm

    Soooooooo 1,000,000 times true!!! I too write when I need answers…and I just love this story about how it all started for you, and the clarity of encouragement and belief from your son…brilliant!

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    • diannegray / Dec 17 2012 5:42 pm

      Thank you, Harula ;) Writing just seems to put things into perspective for me and the answers to deep questions seem to come thick and fast :D

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  20. jmgoyder / Dec 17 2012 1:29 pm

    That is fantastic! Yes I do find writing cathartic – love it.

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  21. robin claire / Dec 17 2012 1:43 pm

    Hi Dianna,
    I’ve had some hard times in my life (haven’t we all?) when I tried to get God to answer my “Why?” questions. I wrote a post about this called: Don’t Ask God “Why” – Ask “What”. I wrote it on 11/9. I thought you might be interested in the subject. Actually I have written a number of posts that point to this same difficulty; trying to get God to answer “Why?” questions.
    robin claire

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    • diannegray / Dec 17 2012 5:44 pm

      Thank you, Robin. I’m going to take a look :)

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  22. adinparadise / Dec 17 2012 2:17 pm

    What a wonderful story, Dianne. Bless your son for believing in you. :)

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    • diannegray / Dec 17 2012 5:45 pm

      Thank you my dear – children are a wonderful leveler! :D

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  23. nrhatch / Dec 17 2012 3:08 pm

    What a great share! Thanks, Dianne.

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  24. 1girl4adamwest / Dec 17 2012 3:33 pm

    It’s wonderful the blessings your family can bring to you and out of you!

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    • diannegray / Dec 17 2012 5:47 pm

      So true – children never let an opportunity go to waste ;)

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  25. some stolen moments / Dec 17 2012 3:43 pm

    Writing is very cathartic. I always encourage my therapy patients to keep a journal rather than keep everything inside.

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    • diannegray / Dec 17 2012 5:50 pm

      That’s absolutely fantastic. Writing about things seems to put everything into perspective and also keeps a record of our feelings.It’s also good to go back sometimes and know how you sorted your way through a difficult time ;)

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  26. Amanda / Dec 17 2012 3:49 pm

    Perhaps this is my problem – my life is far too good! I think the best art often arises from the darkest moments and deepest pain. It’s not like I’d wish those things upon myself but it would make it a hell of a lot easier to find material!

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    • diannegray / Dec 17 2012 5:52 pm

      So true, Amanda. But by the sounds of things you look on the sunny side of life all the time anyway. You’re certainly a glass half full gal and would be a pleasure to have around :D

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  27. jannatwrites / Dec 17 2012 3:57 pm

    That is such a cool story. I like that your son had so much faith in you (and that you didn’t disappoint.) Writing is cathartic. It allows me to ‘write’ a wrong and move on rather than dwell on it. Now, if I could only win a contest to prove to myself that I’m a writer :)

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    • diannegray / Dec 17 2012 5:55 pm

      LOL! It was only a small contest but the feeling it gave me was one of absolute elation :D

      I love the way kids have so much blind faith – I guess its because they’re not old enough to be cynical about a lot of things ;)

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  28. EllaDee / Dec 17 2012 4:40 pm

    You’ve helped me realised the second ting I was looking for after reading Robin Coyle’s recent post recounting calming her mother reading your post to realise I utilise writing the same way. If I can work through events, confusion, feelings in by writing it out, sometimes in more or less words, even if it’s only me who reads the words, they exist and I can say “there it is”.

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    • diannegray / Dec 17 2012 5:58 pm

      Exactly, Ella! Sometimes I just write pages of absolute drivel so I can get to the crux of a problem. I’m sure if people read it they’d think I was totally nuts! 8O

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  29. Denise Hisey / Dec 17 2012 5:40 pm

    Dianne, what a beautiful thing for your son to have such simple, complete confidence in you.
    Congratulations…on raising a wonderful son, and on your writing achievements!
    And, yes, writing is a catharsis for me. Every word heals another small piece of me, and I grow stronger. The pen really is more powerful than the sword!

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    • diannegray / Dec 17 2012 7:28 pm

      I love ‘The pen really is more powerful than the sword’ – so true!

      I think those of us who need to sort out a messy world and who can do it through writing down words are very lucky indeed! I love the way every word ‘heals’ another peice of you – such a beautiful thing :D

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  30. bodhimoments / Dec 17 2012 6:22 pm

    I mainly write for fun. Don’t know that it is cathartic, for me. Sometimes I feel compelled to write, mostly it is fun, but it does tend to make me forget my mundane chores :). An addictive kind of fun.

    Kudos to your ten year old. How can you not win with such faith boosting your writing?

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    • diannegray / Dec 17 2012 7:31 pm

      Writing is a lot of fun ;) It takes us away from the mundane and into worlds we create and control. It is truly a beautiful thing :D

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  31. mrscarmichael / Dec 17 2012 7:49 pm

    I love this post and what a fantastic yet traumatic way to start writing. It was Mr Carmichael who suggested I went to a writing class (no not think from this that he is normally so thoughtful) and like you I still have the first novel’s first draft in a drawer.
    And yes I compare it to the medieval practice of blood letting minus the leeches.

    Do they have garrets for mad women in Darwin? Better to just keep writing………..

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    • diannegray / Dec 18 2012 7:00 am

      LOL! I hope they don’t – but I’m in Cairns at the moment so who knows!! :D

      The first novel is always an odd one – it just sits there and occasionally calls out to be finished. I’ll probably never finish it because I was never sure where it was going to in the first place – it’s more like a mad-woman’s thesis!

      You’re very lucky Mr Carmichael had that great idea and the rest, as they say in the classics, is history :D

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  32. ramblingsfromamum / Dec 17 2012 9:09 pm

    I find writing so cathartic I think this is the real world and my every day life is the false!.
    How wonderful that your son recognised your talent – even though you may not have at the time.
    Keep on writing Di, I shall keep reading and thanks for continuing to read my dribble :-)

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    • diannegray / Dec 18 2012 7:03 am

      LOL! It’s not dribble! I love your writing ;)

      I sometimes feel as if my writing is the real world, but I wasn’t sure if others felt the same way – thank you for making me feel ‘normal’! ;)

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  33. Zen A. / Dec 17 2012 9:28 pm

    That’s so awesome that you managed to win the short story contest. Nothing like a win to boost a writer’s self-esteem. ;) I do understand what you mean by writing being cathartic. Sometimes when I’m upset or particularly angry, I channel my emotions into my writing. The intensity of my feelings allow me to write for hours on end, so that by the time I’m done I feel totally spent and a lot calmer. :)

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    • diannegray / Dec 18 2012 7:07 am

      I couldn’t have put it better myself, Zen. It’s like all the mess spills out onto the page and once it’s gone it’s a great feeling! :D

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  34. cocoaupnorth / Dec 17 2012 10:34 pm

    Love this post Dianne. How powerful that you were able to acknowledge your talent to write to your son and followed it through.
    Friends are always asking, why don’t I write. My answer is always, I’m lazy, writing is hard work, my life is not that interesting to write about, etc. I’m a bookworm though, I love to read, appreciate the written word and yes, for now I’ll stick to reading:-). So, I have huge respect for writers…well done.

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    • diannegray / Dec 18 2012 7:10 am

      Thanks, Cocoa ;) I don’t think people realise what hard work writing can be and you’re so in-tune to understand the blood sweat and tears that go into a novel. Kudos to you my friend :D

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  35. grumpytyke / Dec 18 2012 12:44 am

    A thought-provoking post Dianne. But it raises a question for me: what is a ‘writer’? I write a lot, in the past I have written much, much more, but I don’t consider myself to be a ‘writer’. Some of the responses, and even your post, seem to suggest that it is someone who is urged to write by some distressing, or maybe happy, event. I’m sometimes prompted to write by such things, but that doesn’t seem to make me a ‘writer’ either. I understand ‘author’ at the top of your blog, but many put ‘writer’ there; what does it mean? So, all you ‘writers’ out there, what are you?

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    • diannegray / Dec 18 2012 2:59 pm

      I don’t think a ‘writer’ is someone who is urged to write by some distressing, or maybe happy, event. My son used the word ‘writer’ because that’s usually how kids talk. We are all
      writers if we are ‘writing a book’ – but when that book is published we become the ‘author’ of the book.

      I see no reason why anyone who is writing a book (whether it be fiction, poetry or an autobiography) can’t call themselves a ‘writer’ – because basically they are ;)

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  36. Janna G. Noelle / Dec 18 2012 1:20 am

    Writing has definitely been cathartic for me in the past, Dianne. I too have had the experience of working ferverishly away on a novel – in truth, being subsumed by it – in response to challenging personal circumstances. Life is much better these days, and novel-writing more for entertainment purposes, but I still write in my journal to help me overcome smaller issues. On the whole, like you, I think I write partly because it helps me make sense of the world and try to answer otherwise unanswerable questions.

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    • diannegray / Dec 18 2012 3:03 pm

      It’s a wonderful way to sort out things that are happening around you and to try and add some perspective to confusing or difficult situations.

      My writing is far more entertaining and fun these days as well – it’s great to be able to sit down and create worlds and the people that live and love in those worlds. :D

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  37. Peter / Dec 18 2012 1:38 am

    Dianne, thanks especially for this post.

    Like

  38. roughwighting / Dec 18 2012 1:53 am

    Writing is absolutely cathartic for me. Besides helping me ‘get away from real life,’ like you, it helps me ask the difficult questions (like…WHY?). Also writing helps me connect with my self – my real self. I believe that’s why my creative writing classes are so successful – each new writer who begins with self-doubt about their ability to write, leaves with a ‘cathartic’ smile and an acknowledgement of finding themselves…through their own writing.

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    • diannegray / Dec 18 2012 3:06 pm

      It’s so lovely to be able to help people find that ‘special writing place’! I believe there is a writer in all of us – we just need to find the confidence to open up to that part of our lives! :)

      Well done with the classes! :D

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  39. maggiemyklebust / Dec 18 2012 1:55 am

    Anyone who can write a short story in one night and win an award for it, is not only a writer but a good one and it’s wonderful that your sons faith was rewarded.

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    • diannegray / Dec 18 2012 3:10 pm

      I’m sure had I not done well I would have never said anything to him and he probably would have asked me about it for years after! Kids have that way of ‘innocently’ pressuring parents because we don’t really want to disappoint them or let them see that we’re not as amazing as they think we are!!! I think that’s where my determination came from – I wasn’t really thinking about me, I just didn’t want to disappoint him (I’m such a softie when it comes to my kids!)

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      • maggiemyklebust / Dec 18 2012 5:18 pm

        I hear you and with six kids, know that feeling well…

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  40. jahnosecret / Dec 18 2012 2:11 am

    Isn’t it ironic that the loneliness of writing is driven by the heartfelt cry for reconnection? God bless and thanks for the post.

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  41. pixilated2 / Dec 18 2012 2:32 am

    Writing has been a long held desire, but never taken seriously until recently. I have two blogs. One is for everyday sharing and one is quite specifically for catharsis. I kept them separate for a very long while. Recently, the one has crept into the other and I am not certain how I feel about that.

    Writing is most definitely cathartic, and it has became a release for my creative endeavors as well. I think it was the positive responses that encouraged me to try. I am taking baby steps.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Not sure if I should share this here, but you are free to erase it if you desire…

    The events of last week are not the first of these tragedies. I read yesterday that “America is experiencing an epidemic of violence and lawlessness — so far in 2012, we’ve seen 18 mass murder events in the U.S.” and in Mr. Rosenberg’s words, “the year isn’t over.” I am in awe of how fast the news about this one has traveled around the world. None of the previous and similar injustices were any less tragic, so why has this one gone viral?

    I feel that it is because we are suddenly seeing the big picture. Things are not so copacetic out there in the big world as we like to imagine they are. The world has become a scary place and we are realizing that the monsters we feared in our youth are real. Or maybe this was the story that “broke the camel’s back.” That made us realize there is something going very wrong in our grand society.

    Whatever the reason for this change it is certainly a wound to the psyche. ~Lynda
    (you may read more of Joel Rosenberg’s article here: http://tinyurl.com/ccy73vy )

    Like

    • diannegray / Dec 18 2012 3:36 pm

      Thank you, Linda – I’ll be taking look at Joel’s article. I commented on Anna Scott Graham’s post on the weekend that the US seems to be spiraling out of control – but then I thought about it overnight and felt as if I’d been too harsh on the country. BUT – looking at it from a distance and not being an American gives me (and I’m sure a lot of people in the world) the impression that the US is a cesspit of gun crazy freaks who roam the streets looking to kill anyone they can find. I know this certainly isn’t the case – but this is how the media portrays the country. This event has been the ‘straw’ that has broken the camels back and I’m hoping something positive comes out of it (strict gun control, money going to mental health instead of armies, better education for parents, anything/something will do!).

      I really don’t know how the country ended up in the mess it’s in now, but it’s going to take a long time to turn things around (if at all).

      You’re right about these event being a ‘wound to the psyche’ because it’s not just the US who is feeling this – it’s the entire world and we’re getting nervous about what the effects of a complete collapse of American society will have on the rest of us.

      Sorry about rambling on here – I’ve never been a political being, but it’s hard to avoid it sometimes ;)

      Like

      • pixilated2 / Dec 19 2012 12:08 am

        “If at all.”
        That’s that part that scares me too. We are so far down the rabbit hole I don’t see how we can turn it around.

        The thing about guns is they don’t kill people. People kill people. One of our constitutional rights is the right to bear arms. Weather it means for our country in crisis or for our own protection. I grew up around guns and have a healthy respect for them. As an adult I never owned one or felt the need to own one until this year. Ironic isn’t it?

        The economy (so many jobless, homeless, etc.), lack of mental care, bad parenting, lack of a two parent home life, lack of FAITH, these are the underlying issues that are the cancer of our society. I don’t know what kind of information goes out to the rest of the world, but the truth of it is, that we are not getting better with the current president either. Too much debt, printing more money, borrowing from China, and on it goes. When the bank account goes dry and your debts are too great, you or I would have the sense to stop spending, but not our government…

        All of this is a heavy burden. And we are all feeling the weight of it. It was predicted about 6 years ago that crime and lawlessness would go up because our economy was bad and the people were feeling the pinch. Well, it isn’t a pinch anymore for some in our society, it is a crush.

        It makes me weep.
        ~~~~~~~~~~

        Who’s rambling now, Dianne? You found my secret fears and I do go on! Sorry.

        Like

      • diannegray / Dec 19 2012 6:41 am

        LOL! That’s okay – it’s such a complex problem that we can’t help get passionate about it and there’s just SO much to say on the subject :D

        Like

  42. ocdreader / Dec 18 2012 3:46 am

    Something lovely out of the nastiness. That was very inspirational! I am trying to name 2013 (which is just something I do instead of making resolutions, I name the year) and I think it will be about writing, doing, completing, finding your inner artist or something along those lines. I obviously have some words to wrangle.
    PS – I keep telling people around here about the chocolate pudding tree – we are all jealous of you.

    Like

    • diannegray / Dec 18 2012 3:39 pm

      LOL! I can wait until it fruits again so I can get more pictures :D

      How about 2013 – the year of Discovery! ;)

      Like

      • ocdreader / Dec 19 2012 2:39 am

        I like it! Thanks word goddess! :)

        Like

      • diannegray / Dec 19 2012 6:44 am

        Oh – I LOVE that name! :D

        Like

  43. danpentagram / Dec 18 2012 4:29 am

    Great post Dianne. I wouldn’t say that writing is cathartic for me as such, but my current project (7 short stories) is helping me to understand how some things seem trivial to some, actually is a source of fear and hatred for others – of course, just like your post says, my writing won’t change the world, but it is certainly helping me understand how everybody is different.

    Like

    • diannegray / Dec 18 2012 3:42 pm

      Your seven short stories sound very intriguing, Dan! Writing tends to have way of separating things out ‘sorting out the mess’ as I call it. I find it cathartic because I wouldn’t know what to do with myself if I didn’t write! :)

      Like

  44. Char / Dec 18 2012 7:48 am

    Writing is a release for me too. I think that’s what got me through those hard teenage years was my journal writing…and now I can control characters and experiment and see how they react to conflict or struggle (and in them, see how I could).

    Like

    • diannegray / Dec 18 2012 3:51 pm

      What a brilliant response, Char ;) I love this. I do this in all my stories – but never realized why, until I read your comment – this is an ‘ah ha’ moment for me! Thank you :D :D

      Like

  45. Jessica F. Hinton (@jessicafhinton) / Dec 18 2012 1:21 pm

    This is such a powerful story! Thank you so much for sharing! I think it’s humbling what our children can do to inspire us to believe in ourselves. It’s amazing that they see things so clearly and don’t allow the same mental blocks that we, as adults, sometimes think we see, the blocks that allows us to stop us from pursuing our dreams. Good for your for entering the contest! And congratulations on your win!

    Like

    • diannegray / Dec 18 2012 3:55 pm

      I’m sure we have children just to keep us grounded and humbled! ;) They never cease to amaze me! They see the world with chrystal clear eyes and things that are hazy to us seem very obvious to them. I’m so glad you liked this story and thank you so much for the congrats! :D

      Like

  46. Anna Scott Graham / Dec 18 2012 2:13 pm

    I find it very cathartic; working out the kinks in my life, and in what I observe.

    I love it that your son brought the contest to your attention. I also know that feeling of writing and losing contact with the real world. But sometimes there seems to be no other way to sort something. Good thing our families love us.

    Like

    • diannegray / Dec 18 2012 3:58 pm

      Families are great like that – particularly kids! He could have just looked at me and thought I’d gone nuts, but he didn’t – he was excited that I was so obsessed with something and he just wanted to join in the fun. What a darling he is! :D

      I’m glad you find writing cathartic as well – I really don’t know what I would do with my life without it! ;)

      Like

  47. M.C. James / Dec 18 2012 4:14 pm

    Great post. I agree, writing can be cathartic. Sometimes I don’t know what I’m going to write until I start doing it.

    Like

    • diannegray / Dec 19 2012 5:50 am

      Very true – particularly if your trying to sort out situations or feelings ;) Thank you so much for stopping by to read and comment :D

      Like

  48. Bonnie at {PaperKeeper} / Dec 18 2012 5:53 pm

    Yes! Whether it’s a list, or a post, or something in my journal…I’ve always been able to sort out my thoughts and feelings when I put pen to paper!

    I love this story…the faith your son had in you…you just jumping in to to do it…and not to mention the outcome. Writing really does help sort things out, I suppose because you have to find a way to explain, express and get the thoughts somewhere besides just your own mind. :)

    Like

    • diannegray / Dec 19 2012 5:57 am

      I love the way thoughts can actually travel from the head, down the arm and onto the page – it’s such an amazing process ;)

      I’m just so glad things worked out the way they did – I guess if they hadn’t, I wouldn’t be writing about it (or even blogging at all!) :D

      Like

  49. Roy McCarthy / Dec 18 2012 7:07 pm

    Excellent post as usual Dianne. But just as much as your posts I look forward to reading all the good observations from your commentators and your responses. It’s a real high-class discussion board and I often blog-hop back to the commentators to see what they’re up to. (P.S. I too would like to see your earliest work at some time in the future).

    Like

    • diannegray / Dec 19 2012 6:26 am

      Thank you, Roy! I’m sure the people who come here to comment are very flattered by this remark ;) They make wonderful observations! (And I include you on this list as well :D)

      I’ve found I’ve learned more about writing from bloggers than I have from reading any books on the subject.

      A lot of my earliest work is in Manslaughter and other tears – and some of it is pretty savage! ;)

      Like

  50. 4amWriter / Dec 18 2012 8:58 pm

    Without question, I find writing cathartic. From writing about my mother to writing fiction, there is something healing about putting words together to answer questions. Like your ‘why?’, I am usually drawn to writing when I feel confused, depressed, lost, angry. My first novel started out under those conditions as well, not knowing that’s what I was doing. That’s why it took me so long to write it, because it was less a novel for the public and more a novel for myself.

    Like

    • diannegray / Dec 19 2012 6:37 am

      I totally understand because we share many similarities ;) I write a lot for ‘myself’ and this is the reason why. We don’t have to share our writing with anyone and once the ‘noise’ has been filtered onto the page we can then focus on the reasons behind our thoughts. It’s a very satisfying process (in the end – not during the confusion) and I try to tell others who are feeling confused, depressed, lost or angry to write it all out, not keep it all in ;)

      I really hope your mother is going well…

      Like

  51. bluebee / Dec 18 2012 10:25 pm

    Yes, it is why I write – to keep from going stark-raving mad :-) How wonderful that your son encouraged you to take the plunge – and that you won.

    Like

    • diannegray / Dec 19 2012 6:39 am

      LOL! I wasn’t going to use the words ‘stark-raving mad’ and I’m so glad you said it because that is exactly how I feel! :D

      Like

  52. gabrielablandy / Dec 19 2012 1:28 am

    Dianne – what a beautiful post. Your son is such a little hero!! For me writing is such a wonderful way to breathe: I find that I release, but that I also take in too. The experience is both enriching and cathartic. Have a lovely Christmas and New Year.

    Like

    • diannegray / Dec 19 2012 6:43 am

      Thank you so much my dear :D I love the way you equate breathing to writing (not just inhaling but exhaling) ;)

      You have a wonderful and safe Christmas and New Year as well…

      Like

  53. ripe red berries / Dec 19 2012 4:01 am

    Thank you Dianne for writing such a thoughtful, beautiful and touching post. It made me laugh (as you always do) and cry…writing is good for the soul, I agree…what a gift from your son! Loveliness indeed…Happy Holidays!

    Like

    • diannegray / Dec 19 2012 6:48 am

      Thank you so much :) Your comments always bring a smile to my face. You’re right – writing is good for the soul and I really don’t know where I would be (or what I would do) without it!

      Happy Holidays to you as well – have a safe and happy time! :D

      Like

  54. Jacqui Murray / Dec 19 2012 1:39 pm

    Kids. No one explained the impossible to them.

    Like

    • diannegray / Dec 20 2012 6:29 am

      They just think everything is so easy at that age – it’s wonderful! ;)

      Like

  55. Jenny Ackland / Dec 19 2012 4:10 pm

    What a lovely story Dianne. You *are* a writer!

    Like

    • diannegray / Dec 20 2012 6:50 am

      It was a difficult concept to grasp at first, Jenny. I just thought I was going nuts and it didn’t really occur to me that this event had forced open a door to a whole new world! ;)

      Like

      • Jenny Ackland / Dec 20 2012 11:18 am

        Following you on twitter now Dianne so I can keep up w your new posts here.

        Like

  56. tchistorygal / Dec 19 2012 9:18 pm

    Dianne, I love this post. I admire each and every post you do, and love the first book of yours I’ve read, and know the rest will be just a cherished. You took the plunge, and it worked, you’ve resurfaced a writer. And yet you share your inner struggles with us so we can identify and move through our own. Thanks for inspiring. Marsha :)

    Like

    • diannegray / Dec 20 2012 7:02 am

      Thank you, Marsha ;) It’s certainly not been all wine and roses for me and I really appreciate your wonderful comments about my story ;)

      Like

      • tchistorygal / Dec 20 2012 7:05 am

        Dianne, there aren’t too many of us that grow thornless roses. The good news is that we don’t grow all thorns! :) Marsha :)

        Like

  57. sherrylcook / Dec 20 2012 1:38 am

    It’s amazing what our children and grandchildren can persuade us to do! Their young minds believe that anything is possible. If we could only keep that mindset as we grow older. You are a beautiful writer and I’m glad you decided to write…because now I can read your stories!

    Like

    • diannegray / Dec 20 2012 7:06 am

      Thank you, Sherry! Young minds teach us to look at the world the way we used to before all our disappointments and fears crept in. Some very famous writers will tell you that you will be far more successful and creative if you learn to think like a child again – so true :D

      Like

  58. Rick Mallery / Dec 20 2012 4:35 am

    I always like to hear how you started writing, Dianne. :-)

    Like

  59. ly / Dec 20 2012 1:13 pm

    Your last sentence is genius. That is exactly why we write–to sort out what the world has bought us.

    Like

  60. donnajeanmcdunn / Dec 20 2012 1:55 pm

    Another great post and so very true. It’s why most of us feel as though we have to write, it’s because we do!

    Like

    • diannegray / Dec 20 2012 4:53 pm

      So very true,my dear! I’m so glad you liked this :D

      Like

  61. themissingsock12 / Dec 20 2012 11:23 pm

    I totally agree. While, admittedly, I’m a horrible creative writer, blogging helps me stay sane. It helps me be able to process things sometimes, and also get others feedback. Great post ;o)

    Like

    • diannegray / Dec 21 2012 6:38 am

      Thanks, Melinda ;) Blogging does the same for me as well – it’s an outlet and we all need one of those!

      Have a great Christmas! :D

      Like

  62. Sheila / Dec 21 2012 4:59 am

    Very true – it can be cathartic and sometimes that’s the most powerful kind of writing. It really does help to sort things out and maybe even give us hope. I always feel better after writing than before, as if we get all bottled up when we’re not writing and have to let it all out at some point before we explode.

    Like

    • diannegray / Dec 21 2012 6:43 am

      I couldn’t have said it better myself, Sheila! If I can’t write for some reason (and it doesn’t happen that often), I get really anxious and frustrated (I feel like an addict sometimes!) :D

      Like

  63. billyraychitwood1 / Dec 21 2012 8:35 am

    Cathartic and forever!

    Like

  64. Chris Edgar / Dec 21 2012 1:19 pm

    Writing is cathartic for me when I use it to admit that I’m feeling something that I might not feel comfortable expressing in “polite company” — for instance, and ironically, if I feel like I hate writing and everything I’ve written in a particular moment, writing that down releases the feeling and frees me up to begin writing again.

    Like

    • diannegray / Dec 22 2012 6:15 am

      This is very interesting, Chris. I like the fact that you can write about your frustrations with writing and this helps you write more! Fantastic :D

      Like

  65. lacunakittie / Dec 21 2012 5:37 pm

    That’s such an awesome story. My mom told me I started singing/making up songs as soon as I learned to speak in sentences.

    Like

    • diannegray / Dec 22 2012 7:01 am

      You are so creative! It’s wonderful to know it’s just ‘there’ and you can draw on this creativity to help sort out things that are going on in your mind :D

      Like

  66. Maddie Cochere / Dec 24 2012 6:33 am

    What a wonderful way to start writing. Out of the mouths of babes … and he accepted that you were a writer so readily, and you didn’t disappoint him. Just submitting the story would have been enough for him, but then you won. You are a hero – as parents should be. ;-) Writing my fluffy stuff is not cathartic for me; it’s just funny. When there have been times in my life when I needed something to soothe my soul, it was always throwing myself back into work – the hustle and bustle of a job.

    Like

    • diannegray / Dec 25 2012 6:44 am

      It’s great that you can throw yourself into work job, Maddie, Having something to sooth your soul is always a good thing.

      Have a fabulous Christmas! :D

      Like

  67. eof737 / Dec 24 2012 1:16 pm

    Dianne, I must have not fully recovered from the Newtown events… I can’t believe time flew by and I missed this brilliant piece on your genesis as a writer. It is comforting to know that sometimes the muse walks us through the fire… TY for sharing this. :-)

    Like

    • diannegray / Dec 25 2012 6:57 am

      Thank you, Elizabeth ;) Newtown was absolutely hideous and I’m sure a lot of people are still in complete shock.

      I love the way you talk about the muse walking us through the fire because that is what this felt like. This is the only thing I have when I face situations that mind just can’t comprehend.

      Like

  68. Hazy Shades of Me / Dec 29 2012 6:59 am

    How in the world did I miss this most awesome post! How you ‘fell’ into this writing thing excites me to no end. It also…makes me a little green. To be validated so early in your endeavour must have been so very encouraging.

    Good for you, Dianne and, good for your son!!!

    Like

    • diannegray / Dec 29 2012 7:21 am

      It’s a bit like gambling – if the first time you play, you win, you get well and truly hooked and are always looking for that next ‘high’!

      I think I probably would have just kept writing the cathartic novel if I hadn’t had that first win and would still be working on it today!

      Thank you so much for dropping by – have a wonderful New Year! :D

      Like

      • Hazy Shades of Me / Dec 29 2012 9:17 am

        Yes, I would venture to guess it’s like a lot like gambling!

        I also meant to answer your question – I DO find writing very cathartic. It really helps to organize my thoughts so I can address them with a much clearer mind.

        Many bright and cheery wishes to you for 2013!

        Like

      • billyraychitwood1 / Jan 1 2013 10:39 am

        HAPPY NEW YEAR, Diane. Hope 2013 is all you want it to be.

        On Fri, Dec 28, 2012 at 3:17 PM, Dianne Gray author wrote:

        > ** > Hazy Shades of Me commented: “Yes, I would venture to guess it’s like a > lot like gambling! I also meant to answer your question – I DO find writing > very cathartic. It really helps to organize my thoughts so I can address > them with a much clearer mind. Many bright and cheery wish” >

        Like

  69. Sandra Madeira / Jan 3 2013 11:26 am

    I love this post – I always write when I need to get something out of my system and make sense of life. When things are going well, I tend to have less to write about. Thanks for sharing such a touching story. Sandra

    Like

    • diannegray / Jan 3 2013 3:26 pm

      Thank you, Sandra :D Great to see you here and I’m really glad you liked this post!

      You are the same as me – whatever is bugging me needs to work it’s way out through writing and this is a great thing indeed. When I’m happy I’m better at blogging instead of getting into the heavy stuff :D

      Like

  70. Jtkilla / Jan 4 2013 7:17 pm

    Keep up the good work, love your writing

    Like

  71. Ahmet Ozcan / Jan 14 2013 12:15 am

    Dear Dianne, I really like your definition of writing as “cathartic”. I think that we write best when we fed up. Writing, in other words, is in fact the last stage of the whole process of creative reflection/reaction. We observe and we get confused, so we listen and read, and then we create a new by writing. Let me illustrate my point: In the beginning, you pose the question: “Why some people find it so easy to kill?” I also thought about this question in depth. Hannah Arendt’s “Banality of Evil” was an example of iconoclastic creativity on this fundamental question. I really recommend you to watch, if you haven’t already watched it, Milgram’s famous experiment: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pdb20gcc_Ns

    Keep the good word, I really like your writings… Best regards from Istanbul….

    Like

    • diannegray / Jan 14 2013 6:42 am

      Thank you so much, Ahmet, It’s lovely to hear from you from Istanbul – I’m amazed by the connections we make in this blogging world :)

      Thank you for visiting my blog and commenting – and also for the recommendations. I’ll be taking a look at them.

      Like

  72. beckyday6 / Jan 27 2013 9:05 am

    Wow what an amazing story! How an earth did you come up with a short story idea in such a short time? I need to come up with one that’s going to be graded, but I have no clue what to write about!

    It’s so funny how children have a way with words, they can build you up or tear you down so quickly, and they never even realize they are doing it! LOL. :D

    Like

    • diannegray / Jan 27 2013 9:35 am

      I had an idea for the short story in my head about a girl who kills her parents (my mother’s never forgiven me for writing that story!). But I wanted it to have a twist at the end so I wrote the whole story without the reader knowing the parents were actually dead until the last paragraph. It was a lot of fun to write (even though it sounds kind of morbid!) :D

      If you’ve got one to write for grading you can probably read a few short stories to get some ideas, or maybe think of your favorite movie and think about how you would change it. Best of luck with it! ;)

      Like

  73. amonikabyanyuvva / Mar 30 2013 12:28 am

    What a great post. I once was told a family tale by a friend whilst on holiday, and spent the following week completely in my head writing the story up!! It was the first time I had given myself a writing goal – 2000 words, and finished it!! Great feeling.

    Like

    • diannegray / Mar 30 2013 1:44 am

      It’s a fantastic feeling to just pick up a story and go with it. Well done for getting 2000 words out in a week! Thanks so much for stopping by :D

      Like

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