I have been reading quite a few memoirs while I write my own (although I am staying away from brain injury memoirs since I don’t want to be influenced by someone else’s brain injury story while I am writing my own). One thing I realized is that I love emotional and gritty memoirs. I like to feel that stories are etched with blood, sweat and tears. Tears. This is ironic because after my severe Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) nearly 5 years ago I am no longer readily in control of my emotions. Tears don’t come easily and the few times I have cried since my accident the tears last seconds. This is much different from what it used to be like for me before the accident.
I would like to use this post to discuss emotions and writing with emotions after a Traumatic Brain Injury. I would also like to discuss July’s Camp NaNoWriMo.
I have always loved reading and watching (movies) full of raw emotions. I considered a book or movie good if it left me puffy from crying. That was before the accident that caused me to experience a severe Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), coma, hearing loss and other injuries. Because my injury to my brain was to my Cerebellum it’s not unusual that connecting with emotions is now hard for me. Through the work I do with my psychologist, I am learning how my brain and emotions are different than what they were. It’s through the writing of my memoir (and this blog) that I am teaching myself how to write with emotions even though I am not as connected to my emotions as I once was. It’s a complicated process.
For me the key to being able to write things that still convey emotions is that I still remember what it felt like to be very emotional. If I didn’t have that memory I think it would be very challenging to still write with emotions. As it is now the only emotions I seem readily connected to are frustration and anger. This is very different from how I was. I was very patient and even tempered (just ask people I used to work with in high pressure environments). Now, my parents see my frustration and see my anger. They are often the receivers of some of my outbursts. I had a conversation where I pointed out that my frustration and outbursts aren’t a sign of an attitude problem but rather a symptom of my Traumatic Brain Injury. I think when I am spiraling out of control it’s easy to just see the emotions that are presenting on the surface and not realize that those “emotions “ are really a sign of a fundamentally changed brain. It’s with that observation that I realize that it’s not only my memory of emotions past that’s aiding my writing, it’s my powers of observation that I still seem to be in touch with.
Monthly Feature of the Week: Writing Update
In a few days is July. And July means Camp NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). It’s an online motivation tool amateur writers use to try to write projects (usually novels) in a month. November is the typical NaNoWriMo month but July is the “camp” that people also use to complete goals. In July 2019 I started my memoir during a Camp NaNoWriMo. I obviously didn’t finish it. Last year I didn’t participate. This year I think I will participate but not sign up really. Just do it myself and hold myself accountable. Because ever since I decided to set aside what I had written for my memoir for a new focus, I haven’t properly sat down and just written. Hopefully Camp NaNoWriMo will let me do that.