Please welcome guest Jessica Lourey (rhymes with “dowry”) whose new book Rewrite Your Life: Discover Your Truth Through the Healing Power of Fiction is the only book that shows you how to transform your facts into a compelling, healing novel. Jessica is a tenured professor of creative writing and sociology, a regular Psychology Today blogger, a sought-after workshop leader and keynote speaker who delivered the 2016 “Rewrite Your Life” TEDx Talk, and a leader of transformative writer’s retreats.
Jessica (Jess) is also the author of the critically-acclaimed Murder-by-Month mysteries, that have earned multiple starred reviews from Library Journal and Booklist. The next one is due out in September 2017: March of Crime. Her other novels are The Catalain Book of Secrets, Salem’s Cipher, The Toadhouse Trilogy: Book One, May Day, June Bug, Knee High by the Fourth of July, August Moon, September Fair, October Fest, November Hunt, December Dread, January Thaw, and February Fever.
The Therapeutic Benefits of Writing a Novel
When my husband died unexpectedly in 2001, I’d never heard of expressive writing. And you know what? It wouldn’t have mattered if I had. Three months pregnant, raising a three-year-old, and suddenly a widow, the last thing I wanted to do was spend even one sharp second journaling about how I felt. No offense to Dr. Pennebaker, the founder of the expressive writing movement. It’s just that I couldn’t survive reliving the pain of my husband’s suicide, not then, not on my own. I needed to convert it, package it, and ship it off.
So I began writing fiction.
I’d find pockets and corners of time, and in them, I began to create a world where there was death, but there was also justice. Answers. Allies. Closure. The end result was May Day, which went on to become my first published novel. I hadn’t set out to write a mystery. It’s just that I had these questions, this shame, this fear, and I needed to get it out of my head or it was going to destroy me. Channeling it into fiction seemed like the safest method.
And you know what? Not only did I create a publishable book. I began to heal.
The research would tell you that I was externalizing the story, habituating myself to it, inoculating myself against deep grief by exposing myself to it in small, controlled doses. All I knew was that my brain wasn’t spinning as much and I was beginning to feel again, even if it was the emotions of fictional characters. Little by little, I was carving out new space for thoughts that were not about death or depression. Through the gentle but challenging exercise of writing a novel, I was learning how to control stories, which is what our lives are—stories. [Read more…]