I stumbled upon life writing at age twenty-nine. I was at that moment in a divorce when you know it’s over and it’s time to move on. I realized how little I understood my life and that I had no real sense of how to make a life. I wanted a life. I wanted a certain kind of satisfaction from life that I knew existed; yet here I was, very clear that this marriage wasn’t going to work out and faced with raising a lovely child alone as I made my way toward this certain something I couldn’t even name.
I moved in with my best friend’s parents, who were very kind to me. To try to get a handle on things, I secluded myself in their basement for many evenings to dissect my life story. It was just instinct. Starting with my earliest memory, I started the walk forward, sifting carefully through each experience I could recall. I would approach certain memories in the writing, and my body would tighten. At first I just kept going, but those particular memories called me back. So I went back, slowed down, and sifted more carefully—looking at the scene, the circumstances, the people involved, and at myself, my emotions, my perceptions, and my fears.
At the end of this rather intense process, there was no doubt that something in me had shifted. I felt a new sense of self-possession. I felt aware of myself in a way I wasn’t before. I can see this same new presence and power arise in the faces of others as they complete the life-writing process. The Life Writing Workbook guides you step-by-step through eight sessions of deeply engaging, private, and transformative writing through your life story.