The process itself, of putting one word together with another to structure a thought in a way that makes it communicable, shouldn’t hurt. The art of writing is a pleasure and that is why those of us who write are always involved in this, either writing as such or thinking about what to write or remembering what we already wrote. It is a pleasure and, consequently, it develops a need, a drive, a form of falling in love. What can hurt is the matter we write about and, in the autobiographical field, this is doubly true because the matter is ourselves and including our sorrows and pains. But our life has moments of all colors and if we paint everything black we fall into monotony, so that even the most empathetic reader will end up getting fed up. Also, black looks blacker against a bright color. The biographical account is richer and more interesting if it contains seemingly inconsequential segments. It may be that your attention or your motivation is focused on recounting a traumatic event, but that does not mean that you recount only that. Quite the opposite. The more dramatic the events, the more they need a softening context so that, by contrast, they have more impact on the reader. On the other hand, it is not necessary for a life to have a great burden of suffering to make it worth telling. All lives, without exception, are interesting. The heart of the matter lies in the way of narrating them. It is the form, at the end of the day, what hooks the good reader. To recap: does this writing hurt? I stated at the beginning that the very act of writing should not hurt. However, other authors (I think many) will tell you that all this writing not only hurts but, to be of quality, it must hurt. In the next column we will examine that other point of view.
March 14, 2023