Writing Fueled by Silence: Julie Riddle
November 20, 2013 § 6 Comments
Brevity Craft Editor Julie Riddle is interviewed on the Georgia Review blog about the influence of growing up in a remote, wild landscape, about exploring childhood trauma on the page, and about revision. Here is an excerpt but we highly recommend the full interview here:
Silence fueled the writing I began doing in graduate school, at age thirty-six: I had an extensive internal storehouse of information, memories, and sensations to draw from and explore. But the pervasive silence from my childhood also made writing about the past uncomfortable at best and frightening at worst. I was—and am—acutely aware that I was breaking unspoken family rules and community codes. And there’s a thick veil of silence around sexual abuse. I did not talk about it, except to my therapist when I began counseling in my early twenties, and in occasional generalities with my husband. Up until graduate school I had never written about it, beyond trying to cope with the trauma in my journal writing.
I like what author and investigative journalist Amy Goodman said: “Go to where the silence is and say something.” In my writing, I try to peel back the layers of silence and draw out what lies beneath. Not to sensationalize or expose, but to explore, to find connections, to discover meaning, and to better understand.
Speaking into those silent places through writing about them can be empowering, but it also requires courage, and it’s risky. But I find that when I am vulnerable on the page, it often opens lines of communication—whether it’s with my parents, or with strangers attending a reading—and creates a space for other people to break their own silences.