Trauma Narrative Coaching for Writers
Transforming trauma into art can be daunting, I know first-hand. It cannot be forced and must be thoughtfully approached with care and attention to craft.
Experimental form and content enabled me to first broach personal subjects of grief and depression in books like in which I take myself hostage (2021). Yet, it was not until I started writing lines to Buffy the Vampire Slayer that something unlocked further and I started being able to write more directly about particular traumatic moments and experiences that I had previously been unable to write.
Writing trauma completely head-on is not always the way forward for everyone. Buffy, and subsequently Sarah Michelle Gellar and her entire body of work, functioned as a buffer and a guide for me to start telling my own story in a way that felt safe and productive. This writing blossomed into two books that focus on my personal trauma narratives via interactions with Gellar’s work: my poetry collection, Gellar Studies (2023) and my hybrid memoir My Buffed Up Life (forthcoming, 2024).
Disclaimer: My Ph.D. is in creative writing, not psychology, which qualifies me to help you creatively craft narratives influenced by your trauma but not to process and heal from trauma directly. I am also not qualified to diagnose. Those who are looking for the above should consult a certified therapist.
Work With ME
The best shape for the narratives you are trying to convey may be a traditional memoir, but it may also be poetry, a collection of horror stories, or a novel about robots. Trauma can function as a powerful metaphor. I will help you make craft decisions that will help you decide the best way to tell your story.
I will help you explore and discover creative strategies unique to you to help you create multi-faceted and transformational creative work that are inspired by your lived trauma. All coaching sessions will be strictly confidential and I will approach each session with the utmost care and compassion.
Though we will inevitably end up talking about traumatic experiences, our conversations will always be in service of the craft and project and not a place to process the experience themselves.
I can help you craft your writing at any stage, including
Brainstorming ideas for shape, genre, and scope.
Outlining structure, chapters, ideas, etc.
Discussing drafts and ideas as you begin writing.
Coaching you on designing time management strategies and writing habits that work specifically for you.
Developmental Editing once the project is done.
Examples from Literature
My Body is a Book of Rules, Elissa Washuta: Washuta uses experimental forms and situations such as imagined Law and Order interrogation scenes and creative indexes of her medication history to convey trauma narratives.
The Year of Magical Thinking, Joan Didion: Didion’s memoir is a straightforward, lyrical meditation on grief and grieving.
Erik is one of the most compassionate and thoughtful educators I've ever encountered. They're dedicated to making their classrooms accessible, welcoming, and non-hierarchical. As a poet who has benefited from Erik's encouragement and collaborative spirit myself, I cannot recommend them highly enough as a coach.
-Wren Hanks, poet, author of Lily-Livered (2021)