What Are Your Writing Triggers?

7 Apr

As I’ve said in previous writing posts, I’m a firm believer in “writing triggers,” or certain objects/locations/pictures/people who remind me of certain memories. Throughout writing my book, I’ve had to look for things to trigger certain memories of my childhood….or more specifically, the memories associated with physical therapy, Shriner’s, my CP, and just the different obstacles I’ve had to overcome.

Most people would naturally assume that my childhood home would be a pretty big trigger, but it’s not. Except for maybe the fearful times of attempted to get into the bathtub after my first surgery in 2003 and being terrified of my legs bending. See, I had just gotten out of wearing long-legs casts for eight weeks, and when your legs have been straight for that long, even minor movements could be painful. Anyway, my childhood home isn’t much of a writing trigger. I feel like most of my writing triggers have come from unlikely places…like seeing my knee immobilizers for the first time in years…driving past the places I’ve had physical therapy over the years…simply saying the word botox…or seeing Grace, an 11-year-old girl I know with CP, during her physical therapy sessions.

Over the past month, I have gone back and forth as to whether I want to go visit Shriner’s again, where I had all of my surgeries and intense physical therapy, and where I spent some solid chunks of my childhood. I haven’t been back in a number of years, and I remember how when we used to drive up to Shriner’s I used to get really nervous when we would take the White Horse Road exit, and then I’d get even more nervous when we were about 20 minutes away from the hospital. Knots would form in my stomach, and I’d look out the window and notice as much as I could….knowing that for the next few months my views would be confined to the walls of the hospital, despite the large amount of windows that didn’t give much of an “earthy view.”

Even though I think walking into the main lobby of Shriner’s wouldn’t have too much of an impact on me, I know that things would change when I’d go up to the second floor, and especially more so when I’d sit outside of the therapy room….realizing just how much pain a single room could hold. Part of me is thinking of waiting to visit Shriner’s until I’ve written the majority of my book because then I won’t have as much emotion aching to be released. I will have already released all of the really intense emotions. However, I am thinking of visiting once I finish my book to see if I could maybe give some type of talk to the kids there or try to sell my book to some of the families there.

I guess part of this writing process for me is channeling my pain and fear into something that can help others. I wish I would’ve had someone like me now to guide me as I was growing up…to show me that I was not alone…that what I was facing was painful and scary, but being reminded of the little things. Like how good it felt the first time I walked on my own, or what it felt like when I found my passion through writing, or the day that I realized I didn’t have to be defined solely by my Cerebral Palsy.

11 Responses to “What Are Your Writing Triggers?”

  1. rogerdcolby April 7, 2012 at 4:32 pm #

    As I am writing a post-apocalyptic parody which is also a travel novel (my characters are on a journey of survival) I use google earth to zoom down to street level to see places I’ve never been. My writing trigger is being able to see a place I’m writing about, even if it is pictures or stories about those places.

  2. stephenedwards425 April 7, 2012 at 4:43 pm #

    I’m not sure exactly what to say…your writing kind of took my breath away…I feel the ache in your heart as you wrote these words…what courage you have…thank you.

    I started out reading with certain thoughts running through my mind and ended with something entirely different.

    Listen to your heart…you will know what is the “right” thing to do.

    As a side note…I live on Whitehorse Rd (except in our state it is all one word)…but you got to admit it is kind of a freaky coincidence.

    Be encouraged!

    • ameliaclaire92 April 7, 2012 at 5:59 pm #

      This comment came right when I needed to hear it, so thank you. I’ve received so much support throughout my blogging journey so far, and it helps me realize that I have the ability to change people simply through words.

  3. LA Edwards April 7, 2012 at 5:33 pm #

    Again, I read your post. You are such a brave girl. Afterwards, I wonder if my daughter understands that she is different, really understands this. What her feeling are and if she wishes she would have been born with out CP. Because of her mental capabilities and lack of communicative skills it is hard to ask such questions as her mind is one of a 9 or 10 year old. Granted she does have certain things in her life she relies upon. She is about routine. When her routine is broken she becomes agitated and sometimes difficult to console. She will thrash out as this is the only means she has to communicate. When you told me to give her a hug, I cried. She no longer lives with me, but lives with her grandmother. It is a very sad situation for me, but I am suffering from a motor neuron disease and no longer can take care of her. It breaks my heart. For some reason I was meant to come in contact with you. Perhaps it will help me understand my daughter more, I am not sure. Thank you for your listening to me as I have never spoke so openly about her or my feelings with anyone before, not even my husband. Although he sees what I say in my face. He knows me that well. Be strong and your answers will come. And when they do, you will be inspired to write.

    • ameliaclaire92 April 7, 2012 at 6:53 pm #

      Wow. Just wow. That really touched me. I can’t imagine how hard it must be to realize that you feel the need to take care of your daughter, while knowing that you are simply not about to. I’m glad that you’ve been able to open up to me. I’ve recently realized how much emotion and pain I put in mental boxes during my childhood. While I was going through my struggles, the mental boxes were all that I could do. I couldn’t face the pain when it was fresh, and when I was at my most vulnerable point. Now though, things are a bit different. It’s hard to emotionally relive my pain, but I’ve slowly begun to realize that even though it hurts, the only way to move is forward.

      • LA Edwards April 8, 2012 at 1:59 am #

        I must say, that you have a beautiful way with words and I am glad that you entered into my life. You are very articulate. Had you of not told me of your CP, I would never had guessed. I love my daughter very much and am working on a means for her to come and stay with us this summer for a bit. This will be great for both of us. I will have to likely have my mother come as well, so that she can help take care of her and me. While, my illness is progressing, it is progressing slower than anyone would have guessed. I believe this is because I refuse to allow my illness define who I am. I am not going to sit idle while the world goes on with out me participating. Thank you for reaching out and I look forward to hearing from you as time goes by, through your blog and comments. If you have some time please check out our website, here you will learn more about me and my illness. I believe there is some on my blog page as well. I feel 110% better knowing you. When I see my daughter I am going to tell her about you. Thanks again and keep up that smile. It is my daughters smile as well. It is amazing the resemblance. I like your posts BTW. I will be following you. I feel like I have made a new friend. Thank you for that. Be strong. It is indeed a tough road for you. But, from what I have read, you are a tough, smart girl with a lot to offer the world. And keep smiling! 🙂

  4. Katrina April 7, 2012 at 6:20 pm #

    I think your writing is therapy in a way, you’ve endured so much physical pain, you’ve probably integrated some of the pain emotionally / spiritually. You are braver and stronger than you realize and I think through the writing you will come to know yourself on a deeper level. As for visiting the hospital? Wow, I can’t even imagine how that must feel to you. If it were me, I would take baby steps. The campus, then the first floor and work my way up from there. I can’t wait to read this book.

    • ameliaclaire92 April 7, 2012 at 6:23 pm #

      Thank you so much for your support Katrina. It means so much to me. 🙂

  5. gacochran April 7, 2012 at 9:44 pm #

    Thank you for your vulnerability and courage. Just by sharing your story you touch so many. For me, on the anniversary week of my dad’s death, your story helps me remember my dad telling me his story (told to him by his mom). He spent the first 6 months of his life at Shriner’s. He was born without a left hand. I barely remember one time going with my dad back to visit Shriner’s. Thanks for being a trigger for me. (and I’ve been on White Horse Road many times!)

    • ameliaclaire92 April 7, 2012 at 11:41 pm #

      Aw wow. Thank you for sharing this. It is a reminder that in one way or another, we are all connected.

  6. Marti MacGibbon April 9, 2012 at 8:37 am #

    Thank you for your honesty and courage.The body remembers things that the conscious mind may have buried. Since I am a survivor of human trafficking, domestic violence, homelessness and addiction, your thoughts on triggers resonated deeply with me. In 2004, while undergoing a form of chemotherapy for a life-threatening disease, my body began sending me signals, echoes from the nightmare past. I’d begun calling up memories of my years in addiction and homelessness a few years before, in a creative writing class. I sought help from a therapist who specializes in post-traumatic stress disorder. She helped me to heal: to work through the painful memories and find a deeper meaning and purpose in my life. Your writing is lovely, and it’s inspiring to read. I look forward to your book!

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