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Making innovation work for good. T:@inspirechilli

Saturday 25 May 2013

The power of writing the unexpressed

When people ask me for suggestions on how to develop their thinking and writing, I often say that they should try to write about one of their earliest memories. It’s a simple exercise that allows someone to explore the power of writing about unexpressed feelings and concepts, and to experience how through the act of writing itself we can discover things inside us that perhaps we didn’t know where there or are frightened to examine.  Early memories force you to go deep and require you to use your senses to capture them. They also need the mental and emotional resilience to express things that might be difficult and challenging. Which is why it’s a good exercise to open your heart and mind to new thinking. It is a useful reminder that free writing can allow you to reach ideas that the logical mind would never be able to find.  It’s a creative tool, and it can also help you to catch up with feelings and thoughts that you haven’t had time to shape into something coherent.

As an example, I’ve written up an early memory of my own, which reveals to me why, to this day, I can’t face walking into a hospital.  Who knows, maybe I’ll end up designing one in the future. ..

 Waiting room

Mummy is on the phone. It isn’t a normal call. There is blood crying from her eye. I watch it trickle down the cheek: a red worm; a vampire surprised at sunrise.  Cotton wool drips on the fluffy carpet.  I can’t stop it. I can’t stop her vanishing instead of the blood. The phone sits squat and silent like a snail. We are left to wait.

Nana lets my brother and I watch Land of the Giants.  We’re staying up late for Daddy’s dark suit and eyebrows to return.  I’m laughing at nothing, excited in fear.   It’s like Christmas with empty presents.  The humans are tied to stakes on TV.  There is no one to shout for help. Will the window I can’t reach be left open tonight?

They drive us to sit in a sterile white room, comics attached to our faces. I struggle to keep the pictures in my mind to read them. There is clock on the wall looking down with a missing hand. This is the place they fix broken things.  My brother came from here, and he thinks he’s fine now. But I came from the bedroom. Hos-pit-al.  I wish I had taken my teddy, the one with a hole in the neck and his head hanging floppy.  
A lady with a white cap brings her smile to rescue us. We are led through a secret door. You are not allowed to go in your Mummy’s bed, I am told. You are not allowed to shout.  It’s the first thing I do, hugging her tightly under the green bed cloth, stroking her wiry brown hair. 

The images flicker through  my memory’s silent film.  Emotionless, bandaged up by time. But the wound is torn as I walk back inside a hospital.  Feeling seeps out. I crouch in the waiting room sweating pain, a prisoner at dawn knowing he will be dead in the hour, sick to the deepest pit in my heart for release.  On the other side of the curtain, someone waits to be taken away.

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