Mondays with Monika – 5

A little late this week – my fault entirely. Freelance writer, blogger and writing dynamo Monika opens her heart, lays bare the workings of her mind right now, and doesn’t mince her words. Previous posts are located here: Part 1 Monday 22nd OctPart 2 Monday 29th Oct and Part 3 Monday 5th November and Part 4 Monday 19 November.

1. We’ve talked about some of the therapeutic benefits of writing about intensely personal experiences, such as catharsis and gaining a wider perspective. Having crossed that barrier, has it carried over into your fiction writing aspirations – wanting to write with similar intensity and honesty?
Do I write fiction? I haven’t written anything, really, besides that short story I submitted to A Word with You Press about the weird fishman monster in the diner. I started writing “Fidget, the Magic Hamster” (a children’s story about – guess what? – a magic hamster), “Monte Underwater” (another children’s story about a boy whose house gets flooded and has adventures with a freshwater mermaid named Finn) and “Filbert the Ghost” (young adult novel about – guess what? – a ghost) a few years ago, but haven’t worked up the ovaries to complete them.

To be absolutely honest, I don’t think blog writing has changed or would change the way I write fiction. The way I write is the way I write. It’s all the same, isn’t it? Even realism is fiction, because I write about it through the filter of my perspective. I think of my blogs more as “creative nonfiction,” which is a genre that seeks to find, create or compose meaning from everyday experiences. I think it’s just basic storytelling, which is the same mechanism for fiction and nonfiction. Everything is story! Everything has meaning, if you choose to give it meaning. Everything is truth, everything is fiction.

2. Are you liberated or constrained by this approach?

Every time I write a sentence, I’m liberated.

3. How do you modify your writing when you’re writing about someone else’s experience, such as their grief?
I suppose I’d do what an actor would do – draw on my own experiences to describe theirs.
4. Have you ever considered getting involved with support groups and using your approach to writing (and the writing itself) in a specifically therapeutic context?

I haven’t. But I’ve been encouraged to join a grief therapy group, to help me cope with the loss of my mom, and journaling is part of that process. Blogging is the same as journaling, except you press “publish” when you’re done writing.

But I suppose I have to say that while journaling is considered a universal way for people to process grief, publishing isn’t. Maybe that’s because not everyone would find it therapeutic to have their innermost thoughts made public or shared. But for me, that’s the whole POINT of writing – making the private public. The publication part is almost more therapeutic than the writing part. Almost. It’s just – as I touched on before – the idea that if other people could see what I’m thinking and feeling, they would understand me and sympathize with me, even though I’m a selfish git sometimes. Like, you know – “Curb Your Enthusiasm.” The protagonist is an ass, but he’s a loveable ass. That’s me.

5. Having been through this enormous life change, where do you go next as a writer?
Hold on a minute – I haven’t “been though” it yet! I’m still going through it. Do I ever get all the way through it? Or will I process it for the rest of my life? 

But my husband has already suggested that maybe my mother’s death is an event that will “unblock” me (to use a cliché) and allow me to finally finish some fiction. And when I say I started writing the aforementioned fiction works “a few years ago,” I mean, like, 12 years. That’s normal, right?

Or maybe I’ll start something entirely new. Leaving something unfinished isn’t failure, it’s just exploration. It’s taking a different path than the one you intended. And I think most people take these sorts of roundabout journeys: you start out doing something, 20 years pass, and then you come back to where you started. Maybe you see that where you started is where you wanted to be all along, or maybe you see it’s become a crossroads and you can choose a different path. Or you can make yourself a martini and take a nap.

And if you’ve developed a taste for bullshit-free, in-your-face blogging about family life, grief, creativity and the perils of parenthood, now is a very good time to visit Monika’s own blog – Motheroad

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