The following editorial comprises LIRIC board member responses to the question, ‘Why do we need a new journal about writing for wellbeing?’
Barbara Bloomfield explores the landscape of creative counselling and asks whether using unfamiliar materials such as playdough, drawing and creative writing can generate unexpected and healing conversations. She explores whether such techniques call us to a poetic register rather than a problem-saturated register and whether they thereby can provide a healing reframe for some life problems. Processing data from a six-part story exercise with a colleague, given the pseudonym of Ray, Bloomfield discovers useful new material and gets unexpected answers as she reflects on her own abilities and limitations. This paper is an autoethnographic journey into a therapeutic experience that honours stories of pain or loss while challenging us to step out of our comfort zone to develop new ways of thinking.
The existing scholarship surrounding grief memoirs is sparse compared to the substantial body of memoir scholarship (Birkerts, 2008; Couser, 2012; Gutkind, 2012; Rak, 2013). This paper investigates my practice of writing a young widow memoir from the perspective of practitioner-as-researcher, undertaken as part of a doctorate in creative writing. Creative practice itself can act as an engine for scholarly insight. The intention is to contribute knowledge to grief memoir practice and scholarship. I argue that memoir is a genre that is well-suited to the representation of grief and that a variety of research strategies, such as the role of the first draft, crafting, research, reading and ethical considerations are quintessential components of the creative process. This article investigates these strategies as part of my process of writing a grief memoir.
This paper is a reflexive narrative account of re-visiting a study in which 10 participants (including myself) authored stories of lived experience of childhood trauma, and a follow-up study of the impact on us of writing and publishing those stories. As a social constructionist I re-examine that work through the lenses of my current theoretical knowledge and experience, accumulated over the intervening years, against a societal backdrop that has shaped my understandings. The paper covers the ethical issues raised by this work and the contribution neuroscience has made to my understanding of writing and thinking about trauma, the body and transformation. My intention for this paper is to inform and educate those who encourage and facilitate people to write personal stories, and researchers in the field of writing for wellbeing who research those practices, whether that of other practitioners or their own.
When I decided to write a historical novel about women based in my native East Midlands and set in the early twentieth century, I turned to oral history archives for inspiration. The subsequent listening process triggered strong feelings of nostalgia. This paper considers how I made personal connections with the oral histories that I listened to about women working in the local machine-lace industry. It looks at how I underwent a form of ‘imaginative reminiscence’, bringing together my past and the imagined pasts of my ancestors living and working in the East Midlands to inspire new writing. It explores the nostalgic feelings that arose, particularly for family members and places from my childhood; how triggered sensory responses shaped authenticity and imagery in my fiction writing; and how this led me to fictionalise gaps in my own family’s stories. The paper investigates aspects of my listening and writing processes and the transformation of spoken text into prose. It also sets out my ethical approach in balancing my roles as fiction writer and oral historian when working with other people’s memories.
This article is an edited transcript from the launch event of the Creative Practices for Wellbeing Framework in 2020 (Wall and Axtell, 2020). The guidance is now free to download in 20 languages, including in English, Welsh, Chinese, and Russian.
This article explores the art postcard/image as a creative writing for therapeutic purposes (CWTP) tool to support access to metaphor and readiness for employing poetic techniques in creative writing. It explores: the existing use of the image/object in CWTP; the tradition of using mental imagery in talking therapy; access to metaphor and stimulation of aesthetics in preparation for writing; some suggestions for CWTP practice; a small narrative reflexive self-study demonstrating this practice and some evaluative thoughts from practice participants.
I collect words like a friend of mine collects Facebook and Twitter and Instagram followers: I have lists and lists of them on my computer, mind-map after mind-map of them in my notebooks. I take pleasure in their tastes and textures; the initial presence of a word in my mouth, how it rebounds through my body, moves in and out of me. I love how ‘linguistic’, ‘semantic’, and ‘semiotic’ roll off my tongue, shimmy through my shoulders and gyrate at my hips, round and round. There’s a special kind of sexiness, I think, reserved for ‘pedantic’.
The white policeman who shot the Black child and was acquitted... I was really sickened with fury, and I decided to pull over and just jot some things down in my notebook... And that poem came out, without craft. (Lorde, 1984/2007, pp. 106-107) Audre Lorde’s words from decades ago could have been written yesterday. Racial injustice and police brutality are not new, and this year’s outrages have brought protests, such as Black Lives Matter, to the fore. COVID-19, now a global pandemic, and its economic impact, environmental catastrophe—and actions around anti-racism—have certainly got me out on the streets again, face covered and socially distanced. As well as reading and writing, I have found radio and podcasts a calming way to take part in different ‘conversations.’ Here I plan to share some of these audio treats, and one video party, with LIRIC readers.
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