Wednesday, June 14, 2017

The Story You Need To Tell - Writing To Heal From Trauma, Illness, or Loss - Book Review

Sandra Marinella, a professional English educator, has written a book that is half English writing manual, and half narrative writing therapy, which culminates in a how-to book on Writing to Heal from Trauma, Illness, or Loss.

 A retired high school/college writing, and college preparatory reading instructor, she found herself facing a cancer diagnosis. As she chronicled her own spiritual journey in her private journal, she realized that an inner healing had taken place. She began to wonder if this might be true for others, as she had watched some of her troubled students over the years, also experience emotional, and spiritual healing from the personal English essays that she had assigned for her classes. Mrs. Marinella even noticed healing happening in her parent’s use of his own personal journal during his own personal illness.

She decided to research the subject, and discovered that narrative counseling, reframing your own personal narrative with the help of a counselor, was an established and accepted method of psychological counseling. In The Story You Need to Tell she cites research psychologist, James W Pennebaker, a pioneer of writing therapy, on the importance of breaking the silence through narrative.

She also wondered if this might be true of the literary side as well. Her educational background which enabled her to study the literary classics confirmed this, as most of the best written classical literary works were born out of the authors’ own personal struggles. And writing for publication not only capitulated the author into success, but also acted as a catharsis for the writer…The Story You Need to Tell 

This was true of Elie Weisel, who in 1960, published his autobiographical memoir Night, about the time that he spent in WWII concentration camps, which is still required reading in high school to this day. According to Mrs. Marinella, this was the story that he needed to tell, and we all needed to hear.

But not all the participants in her writing workshops for veterans and cancer patients need or want to write for publication, so in her book The Story You Need to Tell, Sandra Marinella concentrates on private journaling. The six parts of her book combine elements highlighting this blend of private journaling, combining psychological healing, and narrative (story) elements. These six parts include Writing: Not Drowning, Writing Down the Self, Finding Meaning through Story, Rewriting our Shattered Stories, Writing to Heal, and Writing to Transform.

She dedicates her book in part to “writers and students who inspire me.” I hope, now a published author, and writer myself, that I am one of those inspirational students of whom she speaks. A student, in her classroom, Room 221, who was inspired by both an exceptional teacher, who loves stories and literature, and by a moving and wonderful writer, who wants to bring healing, and hope through her personal gifts of research, teaching, and writing.