Carl Jung wrote that healing lives in the realm of the imaginal and I believe this is true. Although the first rule of creative nonfiction is “you can’t make stuff up”, one of the most healing stories I’ve ever written was speculative nonfiction. It was entirely imagined – and it felt deeply true.
Today I want to share a tip from my online workshop, How To Write About Trauma, Grief, And Loss, on re-writing stories as a way to access deeper truth.
Watch The Video Here.
In ‘How Writing Speculative Nonfiction Can Help You Heal’, You’ll Learn:
- About a book that has been hugely influential to my work with grief writing.
- What exactly is speculative nonfiction.
- The impact writing speculative nonfiction can have on your life.
- How I brought locked emotions to life with a ‘true’ fictional story.
- About a resource guaranteed to spark your creativity, transform your writing, and shape your memories into powerful stories.
Your key takeaways from ‘How Writing Speculative Nonfiction Can Help You Heal’.
A book that has been hugely influential to my work with grief writing is by Deborah Morris Coryell. I want to start with quote from her book Good Grief: Healing Through the Shadow of Loss:
In loss, we are asked to learn how to be in a relationship with an unseen being. We have to open our minds to our imagination and then want the imaginal relationship to develop.
Several years ago, after writing extensively about the sudden loss of my first love, I was inspired by a friend to write a new kind of story – just for me – in which a relationship that ended too soon was allowed to continue.
In the story I call “Lucky” I was free to imagine a future that didn’t happen but felt true, at a heart and soul level. In this alternate universe my friend’s life didn’t end early, and our story played out differently.
Writing “Lucky” felt both empowering and freeing. Although it isn’t the story of factual events I don’t consider it fiction. It is based on real people and builds on some events that did happen. This kind of story falls under the category of speculative nonfiction, which has been defined as “ writing in which actual or verifiable material is not at war with material invented/extrapolated /speculated/fantasized. In this nonfiction territory, invention does not negate actuality, but expands its truth and its uses.”
In “Lucky” invention brought to light what was locked up in my imagination and had never been expressed. Writing it felt playful – even joyful. By exploring one possible future that lived in the realm of the imaginal I felt like I’d given myself and my friend a gift.
The process of writing “Lucky” really had me re-think what is meant by fact or truth in creative nonfiction. My story revealed the secrets of my heart, and those desires are fact even if the actual events in the story didn’t happen.
For years I had wanted to change the ending to this story, and doing that on paper gave expression to feelings that previously had nowhere to go. Writing “Lucky” was an act of love and a relief, and after I wrote it, I felt more at peace.
Do you have a story that you wish you could re-write? If you’re feeling inspired to get playful with speculative nonfiction, let me know in the comments!
And if you’d like more tips on how to write about grief and loss, check out my 60-minute on-demand workshop. In it, I share:
- a framework to help you finally get your most difficult stories on the page
- 10 creative techniques (with multiple examples) to help you sidestep difficult emotions as you write
- 5 gentle self-care tips to support your brave heart work.
Here’s the link to learn more and sign up https://www.nicolebreit.com/grief-workshop/