Shadow Memories

Shuffling the source material for my new book Mona’s Work, I’m having difficulty deciding what story to write next. It is not the material that is difficult. The bits of paper, the scribbler and the recipe book are all straight forward. It is the shadow memories.

The memories I want for the book are also connected to ones I would rather not revisit. Is this why I have been working on Mona’s Work since 2007 with only a slim volume of stories to show for my efforts?  I have seen enough therapists, made my way through enough healing circles and drawn enough pictures about these experiences to feel the work I need to do is done. I wish not to haunt my readers with these stories as it seems unnecessary. The memories are not related to the same people, or the same places just the same time in my life.

I’m determined that these shadow stories not become part of the final cut but will I need to write them anyway – so that I can mine deeper into the my memory for the stories I do want to retrieve? Or can I just note them and place the memory on a “parking lot list” such as I use when facilitating so that groups do not derail? Items placed on a parking lot list are revisited at the end of a process to see if there is anything that must be done with them. They are seen as valuable in the first instance – just not part of the immediate work. They are placed in the parking lot so as not to be lost (as if that is ever going to happen).  Can I do this with the shadow memories? Or should I write through the memories, allowing the darkness in behind the bright colours of Mona’s Work?

I wonder if, as in the image below of “city morning in spring,” I can find the balance and beauty of my shadow memories – as is evident in the buildings showing their shadowy bulk behind the trees illuminated in the morning sun.

View and purchase full resolution image here.

Sprout Question: How do your shadows impact or influence your creative process?

© 2010 Terrill Welch, All rights reserved.

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20 thoughts on “Shadow Memories

  1. Your post blends so seamlessly with the place I am inhabiting today … considering which things to allow to inhabit memory space and which to banish to a distant corner.

    • Ah Tess, we find ourselves on a similar page today… something that has happened before. So good of you to drop in and respond to today’s sprout question. I am curious as to what you will decide.

  2. significantly- i try to work in a more emotional and physical level rather than intellectual level. shadow stories are what i often think about while painting and i feel like that emotionally informs my work.

    • Jerry your sprout reminds me that any blocking of energy interferes with my creative flow. You seem to not only allowing the big shadows a place in behind but bringing them forward as a central focus as you create.

      I wonder if while I write Mona’s Work if I could paint the shadows at the same time? Thereby, keeping the emotional and physicals open and accessible. Hummmmm Thank you Jerry for giving us more to ponder.

  3. Well Dear Terrill…you’ve done it again! Given me much to ponder for the day. It is a gift with you I believe…giving us all a glimpse into our more thoughtful sides. 🙂

    I’m finding interesting parallels in our struggles over whether to share our shadow stories or not. Several years ago I set out to write a fantasy style book about my shadow memories. It took me quite a lot of healing work to be able to write all that I did. It was one of the hardest creative ventures I’ve ever undertaken. I finally set it aside for a time as it was originally intended to be a tool to help me to get more shadows out and heal them and bless them for all that they are. I wrestled with and wondered if I should dare to impose my shadows on others and would they even want to read about them even if it was in fantasy form. It still pulls at me…this book. Perhaps one day I will finish it and then perhaps not.

    One thing I know is that my shadow self is always with me. It is a filter that I view my life through and therefore I create through as well. I don’t feel that my creative works are filled with as much angst as they used to be but it’s still there none the less.

    I personally feel that we can pick and choose what we share with the world. At the beginning I felt compelled to share my shadows in some way…now not so much. I don’t feel I am disregarding that aspect of myself by not doing so. It will always be there and that is ok for me. 🙂

    Thank you Dear Terrill for sharing and prompting as you do so well.

    • You are welcome Italya! Great sprout detailing your journey and your process. Thanks for sharing with us.

      Somehow, I believe the possibilities are held in our collective whole as a community. When we leave a sprout to one of the Sprout Question there is no telling the answer we will find for ourselves and the answer that will be found by someone else. I like this synergistic to creativity.

      Maybe tomorrow I will post a “chit-chat” sprout question… and then again – maybe not:)))))

  4. Deep sprout question, Terrill. I think that as we accumulate more years, we grow stronger, more capable of dealing with the shadows. You might want to park them for a few years. You’ll know the right time for this work. As you spiral through life, through seasons of the year and seasons of your life, you will encounter the same terrain again and again. Each time, though, you’ll have more experience with which to relate to it. Don’t do next year’s work now. Be gentle with yourself. Love to you.

    • Dear Amber what a wise sprout, filled with the wisdom of time and experience. As you will see from my reply to coffee messiah, I went off with a plan and didn’t end up parking a thing in the parking… zip! That parking lot is so empty you are going to want to invite the carnival, buskers and a few dozen street vendors in just to liven up the place. But I am going to mentally file your advice Amber and let come through what does and leave the rest aside. I have the power to edit before printing or posting. I shall use it. Thank you:)

  5. Wow, seems we all find ourselves, or a lot of us anyway, making attempts through our life to let go of something that put something in our psyche that is hard to let go of.

    Mine stems from childhood and have never (at least from my 20s on as I mentioned before) let it all hold me down, yet, it all still lingers.

    Guess it’s all a matter of finding your way through, in whatever way suits you.


    • Thanks Coffee Messiah for your sprout… I appreciate your comment that “it’s all a matter of finding your way through, in whatever way suits you.” I just wish that what suited me didn’t change as frequently as the west coast weather!

      I went off to write today with a plan to put things in “the parking lot” only to find the frilly edges of shadow memories sitting up tall and pretty in each paragraph I wrote. I left them there. They are adding strength and depth…not in details but in their watermark images showing through but not disrupting the main story. For today, this is what suits me:)

  6. Sometimes the shadows can be beneficial to my writing, and other times they make it difficult. I’m still working on a memoir piece I started two months ago as my Granny was dying. I know finishing it will be healing, but the complex emotions surrounding it make it nearly impossible to work on! On the other hand, having so many shadows in my life enables me to write about pain and suffering in my fiction stories with realism.

    • Ruthie I’m sorry to hear about your Granny. I can relate when you say “I know finishing it will be healing, but the complex emotions surrounding it make it nearly impossible to work on!

      You may find my next post “Distortion” interesting and possibly helpful.

      Thanks so much for stopping in and adding to the conversation.

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