running to stand still tagged posts

They came alive again

November 10, 2016 psychologyWriting  No comments

SPOILER ALERT: from this point on, I will be examining Running to Stand Still in-depth. If you haven’t read it yet, and don’t want it spoiled for you, stop reading now.After trauma the world becomes sharply divided between those who know and those who don’t.

Whether the trauma had occurred ten years in the past or more than forty, my patients could not bridge the gap between their wartime experiences and their current lives. Somehow the very event that caused them so much pain had also become their sole source of meaning.

In the group they found resonance and meaning in what had previously been only sensations of terror and emptiness.

When you can’t be fully here, you go to the places where you did feel alive—even if

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From a song he’d once sung

November 3, 2016 psychologyWriting  No comments

SPOILER ALERT: from this point on, I will be examining Running to Stand Still in-depth. If you haven’t read it yet, and don’t want it spoiled for you, stop reading now.“Looking back now, I realize I have been peeking into the deserted alley for the last twenty-six years.” – Khaled Hosseini, The Kite Runner

Charlie has been looking back at that note on the table for the past nine years. And just like Jamie, everything he does, everything he is, is marked by that moment. It is his most defining characteristic.

Now, being left by your wife and the mother of your children may or may not constitute a legitimate traumatic event. But it is the moment that has defined his life ever since she left. And so, just as people stay stuck in trauma, he is stuck in the

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Just let me hold you

October 27, 2016 psychologyWriting  No comments

SPOILER ALERT: from this point on, I will be examining Running to Stand Still in-depth. If you haven’t read it yet, and don’t want it spoiled for you, stop reading now.

Our capacity to destroy one another is matched by our capacity to heal one another… Language gives us the power to change ourselves and others by communicating our experiences, helping us to define what we know, and finding a common sense of meaning… We have the ability to regulate our own physiology, including some of the so-called involuntary functions of the body and brain, through such basic activities as breathing, moving, and touching… We can change social conditions to create environments in which children and adults can feel safe and where they can thrive.

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Lost in the playback loop of horror

October 20, 2016 psychologyWriting  No comments

SPOILER ALERT: from this point on, I will be examining Running to Stand Still in-depth. If you haven’t read it yet and don’t want it spoiled for you, stop reading now.

On top of how prolonged trauma marks and defines Jamie’s life, the effects of trauma are brought again into sharp focus when she is attacked in the parking lot.

Some effects of trauma:

Loss of Self

    

Numbing

 

The Reorganization of Perception

Easily triggered The stress hormones of traumatized people, in contrast, take much longer to return to baseline and spike quickly and disproportionately in response to mildly stressful stimuli.

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A truth as strong as gravity

October 13, 2016 psychologyWriting  2 comments

SPOILER ALERT: from this point on, I will be examining Running to Stand Still in-depth. If you haven’t read it yet and don’t want it spoiled for you, stop reading now.“The greatest sources of our suffering are the lies we tell ourselves.” Elvin Semrad

To understand Jamie is to understand that trauma marks every single part of her. Everything she does, the way she thinks, the way she perceives the world, are all systemic of the prolonged trauma inflicted on her by her mom leaving, and the consequences of her subsequent downward spiral into drinking and drugs.

But to understand trauma it to understand that, above all else, humans are wired to survive.

The most important job of the brain is to ensure our survival, even under

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The body does not lie

October 6, 2016 psychologyWriting  No comments

Working with trauma is as much about remembering how we survived as it is about what is broken.

I read The Body Keeps the Score before I started on the second draft of Running to Stand Still, partly out of personal curiosity, partly because I had every intention of going back to school for counseling or social work and I was trying to learn as much as I could in the time before I applied to graduate programs.

Turns out, I actually didn't want to go into counseling or social work (people are exhausting, I prefer books and characters). But reading TBKTS was not in vain. As fate would have it, TBKTS ended up having a huge impact not only on the story I was working on but on my very writing itself. I was able to draw bits and pieces of information

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The moments that stay with you

September 29, 2016 Writing  No comments

It’s funny, the moments that mark you, stay with you, without you even realizing it at the time.

And when you're a writer, those moments, often make it into your work. Mostly out of a need to understand them, form them into some kind of coherent meaning. Sometimes just to commemorate them, remember them, write them down. These are two of the moments from my life that made it into Running to Stand Still. 

 

The sky, an open wilderness above me, took my breath away.The scene where Collin takes Jamie out onto the ice in Chapter 16. 

I don’t remember at which point in the drafting process I added this scene—I think it was during the second draft. I know for sure it wasn’t there in the first—but I remember that when I wrote it,

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Tears in the writer

September 22, 2016 Writing  No comments

I’ve said before that this book will probably be the most emotional, autobiographical book I will ever write.

These are the scenes I cried through as I wrote them:

 

What are you running away from?Chapter 32

She looked down at me, and I asked the question that’d been burning a hole in me since I met her, “Why does staying here scare you so much?”        She closed her eyes, her face pulling together toward the center. Then she turned her head away from me.        I held on to her arm, moving my grasp from her elbow to her hand.        “What are you running away from?”        I felt a shudder work through her body.        “Everything,”

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Scenes: favorite & hardest to write

September 15, 2016 Writing  No comments

My favorite scene to write was in Chapter 26 when Jamie shows up at Collin’s house on poker night. My heart was racing the entire time I wrote and rewrote it. I liked how Jamie was the one taking action toward Collin, even though she’d just dropped the “I’m leaving in six months” bomb on him the day before. I also had a lot of fun writing this scene from Collin’s point of view because he’s not afraid to confront her. The scene is rewarding because they’re taking a big step forward after faltering back a few steps.

“I can’t seem to stay away from you,” she said in a way that suggested how painful it was for her to admit that she could actually need somebody. “Even though I know you’re bad for me.”           “Actually, I think

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Let’s get meta: on the revision process

September 8, 2016 Writing  No comments

“When you’re writing a story, you’re telling yourself the story. When you rewrite, your main job is taking out all the things that are not the story.” - John Gould according to Stephen King in On Writing

Just as the themes changed as the story developed, so too did the scenes and characters.

There is the story the readers get, and the story the writer knows.

In the first draft, Charlie was this brick wall hard-ass. He was immovable. Impenetrable. To the point that you were left wondering why Jamie even cared at all. He was, as the lingo goes, unsympathetic. Maybe he still is, but at least in the final version, he has some redeeming qualities.

And so, I guess what I’m trying to get at is, that while he is now more fully

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