Getting Rid of Knots

What about grief and solace in the content of your writing? How much does it seep in, if at all? 

Hello friends! Remember I asked you this in my last blogpost. Let’s get going!

I feel we begin to create art from that deep recess of pain we’ve experienced, and then, relieved from that purging through creation, gradually move to other themes. Likewise, let me get the varied forms of manifestation of grief in writing, particularly flash fiction, out of our way by discussing it first.

Consider this story by Lydia Davis in The Master’s Review. It’s about caregiving. The expected visitor is aged and infirm. Notice the author calls him a stranger, removed from the person she might’ve been close too, accounting for the strangeness that results from being “nearly completely unable to help himself. ” By describing anecdotally other similar characters and their situation in old age, the writer is confronting the agony of finding a loved one losing themselves little by little.

Thus, grief need not be written as raw and personal (which works for nonfiction perfectly though). It may be made impersonal and remote, and yet be effectively expressed in a story as brief as a flash.

Similarly, consider Jan Kaneen’s piece, in SIFFC-13, where she describes a difficult situation between daughters and their step mother, from the POV of the younger daughter: “your step-mum feels insecure about her place in your dad’s affections and is under a lot of pressure at work”. Instead of making it sound like a victim’s account, notice how the narrative takes the experimental approach, and mentions the painful parts in a staggered manner. The piece is brief, but lingers longer than it takes to read it.

Finally, pain is amorphous, abstract, and beyond the individual’s ambit too. The larger picture can be squeezed into a flash fiction. For instance, gun violence and how it concerns each of us. One can use a direct visceral account to narrate such a story. Or, use an approach to focus on the helplessness of the victims. Like Cathy Ulrich does! This piece in Unbroken Journal, is sharp, and captures the deep-seated raw emotions of the first person plural “we” caught in a random shooting incident.

Lovely to read and discuss how varied the treatment of the same thing can be. Writing/reading about grief need not be painful; one can channelize those strong emotions towards something that heals both the author and the reader.

Hope you look out for my next Blogpost! Until then, happy reading and writing!

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