No One Ever Died From Writing

“Digging up the dark world, the things you don’t remember, releases a lot of energy. Brings to light things that have been covered up for a long time and they snap and crackle. Usually we try to control what we remember. Control leads to dull writing.

“…Lose control. Let the mute, the silent speak. Your memoir should be a large field, capable of embracing whatever comes up. If you avoid a corner or crag, the reader will feel it.

“No one every died of writing in her notebook what is hidden or dangerous. You might cry—or laugh—but not die.”

–Natalie Goldberg, Old Friend from Far Away: The Practice of Writing Memoir

Make a list of things you keep hidden or that feel too dangerous to write about. Then choose one item from your list and write about it anyway.


  1. Diana Ekizian says


    Abnormal pyschology
    River rafting
    Cryptic crosswords
    Double entendre

  2. vickie says

    He was my brother and a serial rapist, wanted in several states and being pursued by the U.S. Marshals, after his funeral our whole family gathered and talked of all that had transpired.
    “He was innocent”,my mother said, “they were out to kill him, I don’t believe for one moment that he took his own life.” The rest of my brothers and sisters chimed in their agreement, but me, I could only say, “I don’t know who he was anymore.” He had spent some time with me and my family off and on over the last two years before he disappeared. I knew in my heart that he had become predatory since his return from the war, though I had suspected those tendencies before he joined the service. I tried desperately to get him help, first from the military and later I tried to get my mother to seek help for him, all to no avail. Then he disappeared, and no one in the family saw him again for several years.Finally he came home and spent a couple of days with us and then again disappeared in the middle of the night. A short time later there was news of a young girl who had been kidnapped from her bedroom and was dragged into the woods and sodomized, not far from our home.” What a horrible thing,” my mom said,”they should hunt that person down and throw away the keys, how could their family not know that they were sick and needed help?” ” I don’t know mom, my heart breaks for that little girl, her life has been changed forever. I hope her family gets her help so she can overcome the devastation of such a terrible crime.”
    Several months passed and my husband brought me the phone, it was mom ,she told me to watch the news the police were looking for my brother.
    We watched as they reported on the manhunt for my brother, nausea swept over me as I felt the ground growing closer and the fire rise up in my face. I looked at my husband and said,” we have to call the police and help them find him, Oh God why couldn’t we get him help before it came to this, he is destroying lives and we couldn’t stop him!’
    I told my mother that I was going to help the police in any way that I could, I didn’t want him on the street nor did I want him shot to death. I also told her that we should all talk to the police and do whatever we could, my family would later agree. I spent several hours talking to the Arizona police and the marshals, with the information I gave them ,he was soon captured and arrested. He had been convicted in one state and was to stand trial in another state when he was attached by another prisoner. His trial concluded and he was found guilty and was awaiting sentence when they found him hanging in his cell.
    I was interviewed for cold case files and all I could say was that he had been a good kid ,I simply could not tell them that I believed he was guilty or that my mom was wrong about him, I simply could not have that aired on national TV, my mother would be devastated, she needed to believe he was innocent and I could not lose another member of my family.
    Now I have been on both sides of such a horrific crime ,a victim in both instances, I now see how sexual assault is a two edged sword destroying everything and everyone in its path. Strangled with helplessness of seeing it coming and with the inability to stop it,the shame of my weakness and the hopelessness of acceptance that I could never freely talk of my despair and finally the sense of betrayal I felt guilty of, when I was told he was dead .I was relieved he could never offend again. No I’m not dead the words didn’t kill me and I suspect they really did need to be said. Now I am left to wonder if anything good could possibly come from all the knowledge and incite I have acquired or if sorrow is all there is.

    • says

      Vickie, What a devastating story. I’m glad you were able to find a safe place to tell it. I was especially moved by the dilemma of wanting to tell the story and your truth–and not wanting to lose another member of your family. That’s a very challenging place to be in as a writer. Sometimes we have to choose to wait to publish because of the human toll. Other times, we wait and publish. And sometimes, the truth just has to be said. I’m glad you’ve said it here, whether or not you can extend your audience.

      • vickie says

        thank you , I have been told that speaking of such things publicly is inappropriate but I fear that it is for this reason that such abuses are so prolific. I hope in the sharing that I haven’t caused any harm.

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