Write To Mend Your Broken Heart

In any Writing From Your Life Experience class of ten people, there may be ten different reasons why students want to use their life experience to inspire writing. One thing's for certain, it's going to be a lot easier to know HOW to write about your life if you know WHY you want to do it, and WHO you want to write for.

Some are writing as a legacy, because their want their children or grandchildren to know them better. Often this can be inspired by the death or illness of a family member. Loss makes them wish they had known more about their loved one before it was too late - because they know that if their mother/father/ grandparents/spouse had written anything down about their life, they would have devoured their words.

Others are writing to teach, or to be helpful. They have a strong feeling that the hard-won lessons of their life would benefit others, if only they could share them.

There are those who are writing as a means of understand situations or coming to terms with events of their lives. This type of writing can be immensely freeing.

Some students think that their lives would make an entertaining or exciting story that could become a best-seller.

Others just want to learn about writing and are taking on board the advice to 'write about what you know' because it seems a good place to start.

Students may be writing just for themselves.

For close family members.

For a clamouring public.

It depends entirely on what their BIG WHY is.

There are no right or wrong answers, but it is certainly very helpful to have this knowledge fixed in your mind as you start to write about your life, and this is the reason it's one of the first things I ask my students to consider before we dive into creative writing exercises designed to get those memories flooding back.

I have two Writing From Your Life Experience courses starting from January 2019:

Creative Writing - From Life Experience - Ten weeks on Thursday afternoons from 24th January at Wensum Lodge, Norwich.

Developing Life Writing Skills - Ten weeks on Tuesday afternoons from Tuesday 15th January at Merchant's Place, Cromer.

I hope to see you on one of them!

Your Big Why and Your Big Who. Reasons to write about your life.Click To Tweet

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This is my first blog post in a while. The last one - which I have just deleted - was written in the approach to Christmas when I was stressing about getting through the festive period with my mum visiting.

My mum could be a difficult person - hard to please at times, and quick to show her displeasure if things weren't right. We did experience that over Christmas, but we also had some joyful times, and created some happy memories for her. I'm extremely grateful for that, because Mum died on 8th March this year.

When I was growing up, I was always extremely close to my mum. From her, I got my love of the countryside and of trees, wild flowers, animals and nature. She taught me the colloquial names of the wild flowers we found, like eggs and bacon and snap dragons, and these captured my imagination.

Mum with her beloved dog Jasper on a hot summer day in the 1970s.

She made me and my brothers clothes, and said that in one green and white dress she made me, I blended in with the trees and the soft fairy grass that grew in our local wood.

Later, when I began to write, she was thrilled to pieces to receive a signed copy of my first book, and proudly collected copies of all the books that followed. She was my biggest fan, always encouraging me.

Ageing changed her, narrowing her focus to her own life and its slowly diminishing activities. But she loved us still, and I know her grandchildren gave her a huge amount of pleasure.

During the necessary business of sorting out her clothes and belongings I feel I have rediscovered the mother I remember from earlier times - it has been a delight to find our old Mother's Day cards and school projects safely stowed away in drawers and to revisit the love expressed within them.

I found her exam certificates and remembered all the times I helped her to revise - she trained as a primary school teacher in her early forties - and felt proud all over again at her achievements.

Before she died, I spoke to her almost every day at six-thirty in the evening. I know how much these phone calls meant to her because she frequently told me so. Sometimes they were an inconvenience to me, or a source of frustration when it seemed she just moaned and complained about everything, refusing to try to see any positives. Yet even at the time, as I listened to it all, a part of my mind told me that I would miss the calls when they had to end.

And I do.

Love you, Mum.

Mum at Dunwich Heath, Suffolk, 2015

A post that first appeared on author Jane Bye's The Breath of Africa blog.

When I travelled to Cuba in 2001, it was with revenge in mind. Don’t worry, I didn’t smuggle any weaponry into the country in my luggage. I simply chose Cuba as a destination because I’d been learning Spanish with my ex-partner, and I knew that Cuba would be a country he’d love to visit. But he wasn’t here. I was. And after I’d got beyond the unbelievable chaos of the arrivals lounge, it was to be a fortnight of amazing experiences and fun.

It was around six months since my relationship had suddenly ended, and I was still feeling very raw. Fortunately, I palled up quickly with Sharon, a fun-loving Londoner I’m still friendly with today. Together we wondered at the near-empty supermarket shelves, gazed in awe at the crumbling buildings and were chauffeured in classic cars.

Cuban taxis, courtesy of Sarah Morgan
Cuban taxis, courtesy of Sarah Morgan

We visited cigar factories, learned about black magic and the Revolution, and spent a crazy hour making – and wearing – fake Castro beards out of catkin seeds stuck onto double-sided sellotape. We played and we laughed, and we fell in love with Cuba with the ever-present images of Che Guevara looking down on our shenanigans. It was absolutely the best gift I could have given my broken heart.

 

Messing about with fake Castro beards
Messing about with fake Castro beards

Murder Maker - A Story of Revenge

When I returned to the UK, I was to use Cuba as a setting for scenes in two books. First came Murder Maker, a novella for the TEFL market aimed at people learning to speak English. It’s about woman who becomes a serial killer as a result of being cruelly dumped by her partner. Yes, I admit it, it was my therapy book.

 

 

 

Later, I wrote Taming Tom Jones, which was published by Crooked Cat Publishing last year. In Taming Tom Jones, I wanted to move two of my female characters out of their usual environment to throw a spotlight on the nature of their friendship.

 

TTJ Cover

Havana proved to be perfect for this. The rambling, decaying streets of Havana play on your imagination and feel full of mystery and the potential for adventure. Even danger. Just right for the dynamics of a friendship to be exposed. Jen, one of my main characters in Taming Tom Jones, is a bit adrift as a person; carried on the tide of other peoples’ wishes and desires. Her time in Cuba acts as one stepping stone to her taking back control of her life, Just as, I suppose, my time in Cuba did for me.

 

I went on to get over my heartbreak and to build a much more fulfilled and successful life for myself, but I have never forgotten how it felt to be that broken person who flew into Havana hoping for the forgetfulness of adventures. Cuba and the power of writing brought me through it, and it is for this reason that I have just published my first non-fiction book, The Four Seasons of Breakupvia – A Workbook for Recovery from Relationship Break-up at the end of April

3D image of Breakupvia

 

It is a book of activities and writing exercises designed to take people through the grieving and re-building process following a relationship break-up, and it draws not only on my own experience of recovery, but also on research I have done on the subject, and my experience as a creative writing tutor. I’m extremely proud of it, and really hope it does people good, and that through using it, I can help them to discover the incredible power of the written word in dealing with loss. I secretly hope to turn them all into writers too!

A close friend of mine recently spent four days in Havana and was just as enthralled with it as I was all those years ago. From what she says, it’s hardly changed at all, right down to the near-empty supermarket shelves. Which obviously I realise, can hardly be a good experience for its people. They are extremely resourceful people though; you’d have to be to be able to keep all those amazing classic cars on the road year after year.

Faded colour, Cuba, courtesy of Sarah Morgan
Faded colour, Cuba, courtesy of Sarah Morgan

So, I want to finish off by thanking them and their country for what they gave me for those two weeks I visited. I arrived feeling completely vulnerable and depleted, and left with a thousand experiences and memories to bring my characters and stories to vibrant life.

It was a magical time, and I shall never forget it.

 

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write to mend your broken heart

If you're coping with the aftermath of a relationship break up right now, I bet you've had people telling you "I know just what you're going through."

Wrong.

Nobody but you can know exactly what you're going through.

So, I'm not going to tell you that. But I will tell you that I know about sleepless nights. Wanting to pick fights. Feeling so low and so reckless you don't care what happens to you. Or you wouldn't do, if it weren't for your kids, family or friends who want or need you to be OK. To function.

I know about that big feeling of WHY? And all the other questions screaming around your brain as you struggle to comprehend and to accept what's happened to you.

How could he?
What about all our plans and dreams?
The promises and vows we made to each other?

I know about the complete denial that this is really happening to you; that at this stage in your life, you're going to have to make a new start when you thought you were set up for life.  Or maybe, as was the case for me, this isn't the first time you've had to make a new start, and you know how damn hard it can be.  That you can't believe you've got to crank up that amount of energy all over again when you're tired; so tired, your eyes hollow and burning with it, and yet you still can't sleep.

But listen, you will get through this.

Not only that, but maybe you'll be like me and you'll end up in a place when you can actually be grateful this break-up happened. I know that might seem unlikely right now, but honestly it really is true for me. I was so completely in love, I was like a moth hovering around a flame. I gave away all responsibility for my happiness to somebody else; somebody, it turned out, who didn't care enough about me to take care of it.

My recovery took a long time. Yours may do too. There's a definite process to go through, with clear stages to it. You will have to deal with each of these stages before you can move on to the next one, just as I did. But in dealing with them, you'll become a stronger, more grounded, content person than you were before.

I will never walk in someone else's shadow again. Or be dependent on someone else's whims to feel happy. These days I have an underlying strength that comes from the knowledge that I got safely through the most painful time of my life. And because I did, I know I can cope with whatever life throws at me in the future.

Writing played a key role in my recovery, and I'll show you how it can do the same for you as we work steadily, caringly though those crucial stages of recovery together.

Are you ready to make a start?

OK, I know you might not feel ready. Right now you might be feeling as if you'll never be ready. But just pretend you're ready for now, OK? That will be enough, I promise you. Together we'll set off on this healing journey together.

So, I want you to pick up a pen and find a piece of paper or a notebook. Now, write the word HOPE in big letters. There. Now, look at it. You've done your first piece of healing writing. This is what we'll be travelling towards together. Hope.

I know you can do it.  Trust me.

Margaret

write to mend your broken heart

He was the love of my life, and he'd been away from me for a week, on a skiing holiday with his brother - the first time we'd been apart in three years. I'd missed him so much, and now here he was, back again, walking towards me along the platform in the station like a suntanned God.

Handsome and charismatic, without him life was a silent world without colour and light. He was my light, and I flew towards him now like a moth to a flame, flinging myself into his arms. Everything was right with my world again; he was home. I had my man, my passion, and I had my imagined future of the two of us, white-haired, strolling hand-in-hand by the sea together in our old age.

Man and woman holding hands

Two months later, our relationship was over.

I'd been to the supermarket to buy food for his packed lunch the next day. When I entered the house, everything was quiet. Too quiet, because the car was outside, so I knew he was home, and he didn't do quiet. Whenever he was alone, he filled the silence with music, or by making long phone calls to his friends.

I went into the sitting room to find him sitting on the sofa, strangely still, his face filled with tension. Immediately, I went to sit next to him. In the past year, he'd lost a close friend in a cycle accident, and I'd lost my father to cancer. Not unsurprisingly, I feared the worst.

"What is it?" I asked, taking his hand. "What's wrong?"

Absolutely nothing had prepared me for his reply. Since his return from his skiing holiday, life had continued exactly as normal. Shared meals. Doing things with his daughters when they stayed with us. Walking the dog. Going out to social events. And passion. Plenty of passion. As I say, everything absolutely as normal.

He hadn't met my eyes since I'd walked in, but now he looked up.

"I've met someone else," he said.

Time stood still. I swear, it really did. For around 10 seconds, it was as if we were both frozen in time.

I didn't need to ask any questions, because I knew exactly what he meant. I didn't have all the information I would later learn - that he had met this new woman while he was on his skiing holiday, that he had tried to resist her, but the connection between them was too strong. That she had been phoning him at work. That he had lied to me about his whereabouts on several occasions to visit her.

For those ten seconds, none of that mattered. A shaft of light penetrated my brain; a light I knew would all-too-soon be swamped by extreme darkness.

 

shaft of light

 

I can remember my thoughts being really lucid for that short period of time. I knew a tidal wave of indescribable pain was about to hit me. But for those ten frozen seconds, that shaft of light showed me a glimpse of what the future could hold for me - a future without him.

"This is going to hurt so much. It's going to take a long time to get over. But when I have, I won't have to struggle with being a stepmother to his girls any longer. Maybe I'll even be able to have a child of my own."

Readers, I did just that. After I'd dealt with the tidal wave.

So, my challenge to you, if you're dealing with a broken relationship right now, is to use this TEN-SECOND TIME-FREEZE TECHNIQUE yourself.

Find somewhere quiet, where you won't be disturbed. Close your eyes and take a series of deep breaths. Imagine the sky, with the sun breaking out of the clouds and sending down a shaft of light. Let that light connect with you, revealing the best future you can possibly imagine for yourself after you've dealt with the pain of your current situation.

What do you see?

Try to make it just about you. Your deepest dreams and desires. Now, write them down - just a few words will do. And put them somewhere safe. They're your treasures.

Treasure_chest_color