Writing To Heal Your Ancestors

Joyce carol Oates, in a reading, once talked about her writing process and spoke about writing to heal one's ancestors.

What an interesting concept. When I read this it stuck. I, too, have written to "heal" my ancestors.

I am the product of stoic Norwegian immigrants, men and women who worked hard when they came to America to create a better life. They didn't complain, they didn't explain - they just kept moving forward. Their lives were filled with secrets, some of which were only found in archives when I started exploring my genealogy. My mother was the product of growing up in my grandmother's home. Did this in any way explain our relationship? One also filled with secrets that would only come to light upon her death?

As a writer I think it is natural that we are always looking for explanations for why people behave the way they do. This allows us to create well rounded and flawed characters. We search for the answers, and many times discover why those closest to us may have reacted or behaved the way they did too. Early in my writing career, I wrote several novels, as yet they are all unpublished, each story explored the relationship of sisters, daughters and mothers. I can see how I was working to heal my ancestors in these works - how I was working to heal myself and find the answers to questions never spoken.

Have you written to heal those who came before you? To heal yourself in some way? To explain how it all came to be?

In my more recent works, I seem to have left my ancestors behind, but do they really ever leave us? 


D. Jean Quarles is a writer of Women's Fiction and a co-author of a Young Adult Science Fiction Series. Her latest book, Flight from the Water Planet, Book 1 of The Exodus Series was written with coauthor, Austine Etcheverry.

D. Jean loves to tell stories of personal growth – where success has nothing to do with money or fame, but of living life to the fullest. She is also the author of the novels: Rocky's Mountains, Fire in the Hole and, Perception. The Mermaid, an award winning short story was published in the anthology, Tales from a Sweltering City.  

She is a wife, mother, grandmother and business coach. In her free time . . . ha! ha! ha! Anyway, you can find more about D. Jean Quarles, her writing and her books at her website at www.djeanquarles.com

You can also follower her at www.djeanquarles.blogspot.com or on Facebook


Margaret Fieland said...

Jean, secrets were big in my family, too. And yes, I've written a fair amount of poetry about my family in an attempt to make sense of it all.

Magdalena Ball said...

You're so right Jean - our family, ancestry, and personal history is always part of the whole panorama of influence that shapes and influences what we write - part of what makes each of our perspectives unique. I'm writing a novel now that picks up on significant threads in my grandmother's life, and in the wake of her recent death, find it very soothing to be back there with her, uncovering and creating that person who was so influential in my life.

Mary Jo Guglielmo said...

Jean I think our ancestral history informs who we are and so impacts our writing. I also believe that finding understanding in the present can help heal the past.

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