Writing Fueled by Silence: Julie Riddle

November 20, 2013 § 6 Comments

Julie-Riddle-Photo-262x300Brevity 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.

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§ 6 Responses to Writing Fueled by Silence: Julie Riddle

  • Janice Gary says:

    Great post. And so true.

  • Lisa Shaw says:

    So true. When I first began the “writing” process, I was fearful that the dark places, the quiet places, the “empty” places, would be just that…empty and quiet. I have found, however, that one word can, at first, shine the faintest light. With a little scanning, that faint light can illuminate the entire room.

  • Great post. Writing is very freeing. It has helped me process things immensely and have a voice.

  • 1WriteWay says:

    Reblogged this on 1WriteWay and commented:
    A good line from this post: “I like what author and investigative journalist Amy Goodman said: ‘Go to where the silence is and say something.'” Now read the rest of the post and, even better the full length interview.

  • Womanista says:

    I am blogging on being a Somali woman and have a page dedicated to my memoirs. By doing so, I have stepped outside of my religious and cultural boundaries. I have become a traitor. Nonetheless, the truth mots be told, whatever happens. My first memoir post is on female genital mutilation and it is called the “Clitless Clique”. I would be grateful if people could read it and provide feedback.

  • I totally agree. It was only when I began to write about difficult issues from my past , such as growing up with a disabled sibling, that I could start talking about them with others. It was a very liberating experience, and I’ve never looked back!

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