Angela Kelsey

Tell the Story

Scar Clan, Ctd

Filed in Stories, Writing :: February 15, 2013

I’m reading Women Who Run With the Wolves very slowly.

Meanwhile, I’m asking myself how my memoir stands up as a story, not only my story.

I ask myself,  Does it have the necessary ingredients for the heroine’s journey? Have I written a main character who faces obstacles and, as a result, changes just as much as a well-drawn fictional character?

In a recent piece called “Make Me Worry You’re Not OK,”, Susan Shapiro writes, “My favorite [personal nonfiction] essays begin with emotional devastation and conclude with surprising metamorphosis.”

We want metamorphosis in the stories we read and the stories we live. We want to find beauty and meaning in what we have shed.

Clarissa Pinkola Estes writes, “Secrets, like fairy tales and dreams, also follow the same energy patterns and structures as those found in drama. But secrets, instead of following the heroic structure, follow the tragic structure. . . .  The secrets a woman keeps are almost always heroic dramas that have been perverted into tragedies that go nowhere.”

How do you or do I change our stories (lived and written) from tragedy to heroine’s journey?

We tell secrets, particularly those kept in shame.

Estes writes, “[T]he way to change a tragic drama back into a heroic one is to open the secret, speak of it to someone, write another ending, examine one’s part in it and one’s attributes in enduring it. These learnings are equal parts pain and wisdom. The having lived through it is a triumph of the deep and wild spirit.”

Telling my stories to an ever-widening audience transforms me from battered woman to proud member of the Scar Clan; it changes my story from tragic to heroic.

It’s a lifelong work-in-progress.






Filed in Stories, Writing

1 Comment

  1. wholly jeanne

    So many things engage and intrigue me about this good post. Like this sentence: “We want to find beauty and meaning in what we have shed.” I thought about this as I did something yesterday I don’t do so often – watch tv. I listened to stranded passengers on that wounded cruise ship, and realized that I was interested in this news coverage for the same reason I am addicted to women’s memoirs. I love seeing how people face and survive and are changed by difficulties encountered. How they respond to unforeseen happenings, how they proceed afterwards. I shall think of this post, these quotes, and our conversations as I begin my research next month.