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Writing into the Wound: Understanding trauma, truth, and language

Writing into the Wound: Understanding trauma, truth, and language

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Writing into the Wound: Understanding trauma, truth, and language

ratings:
4.5/5 (154 ratings)
Length:
39 pages
38 minutes
Released:
Feb 11, 2021
ISBN:
9781094400020
Format:
Book

Description

Roxane Gay seems to have a knack for fearlessly telling the truth.” The New York Times

From the bestselling author of Hunger and Bad Feminist, an unforgettable, deeply personal look at how trauma has shaped her life and work—and what all of us need to do to come to grips with the collective suffering of the past year.

Bestselling author and cultural icon Roxane Gay is no stranger to trauma. As a young girl, she was the victim of a horrifying act of violence that changed her life and would strongly influence her career as a writer. In her 2017 memoir Hunger, she addressed that trauma head-on, writing with bracing honesty about her body and the ways that food can be used both to bury pain and make oneself disappear. The response to Hunger by some critics who seemed to take perverse pleasure in highlighting Gay’s vulnerabilities was itself a fresh wound. By exploring trauma publicly, Gay suffered more of it.

In her Scribd Original Writing into the Wound, Gay not only talks openly about trauma in her personal life—from her fraught time as an undergraduate at Yale to the stress of returning there as a visiting professor to the fallout from Hunger—but also about the collective trauma we’ve experienced this past year. COVID-19, racial and economic inequality, political strife, imminent environmental disaster, and more: Gay catalogs it all with her trademark candor and authority. To make sense of our pain, she suggests, we need to explore it fully, even as we’re still in the midst of it. Just as she writes her way through her own traumas and coaches her students to do the same, she urges us to take a long, hard look at the wounds we all share: “The world as we knew it has broken wide open. There is a before and an after, and the world will never again be what it once was. That sounds terrifying, but it is an opportunity.”

“To change the world, we need to face what has become of it,” she writes. “To heal from a trauma, we need to understand the extent of it.” Full of wisdom and rage and grace, Writing into the Wound is a remarkable consideration of where we are, and where we need to go, by one of the finest authors and cultural critics of her generation.

Released:
Feb 11, 2021
ISBN:
9781094400020
Format:
Book

About the author

Roxane Gay is the author of the essay collection Bad Feminist, which was a New York Times bestseller; the novel An Untamed State, a finalist for the Dayton Peace Prize; the memoir Hunger, which was a New York Times bestseller and received a National Book Critics Circle citation; and the short story collections Difficult Women and Ayiti. A contributing opinion writer to the New York Times, she has also written for Time, McSweeney’s, the Virginia Quarterly Review, the Los Angeles Times, The Nation, The Rumpus, Bookforum, and Salon. Her fiction has also been selected for The Best American Short Stories 2012, The Best American Mystery Stories 2014, and other anthologies. She is the author of World of Wakanda for Marvel. She lives in Lafayette, Indiana, and sometimes Los Angeles.


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Writing into the Wound - Roxane Gay

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IN THE SUMMER OF 1994, I was a rising junior at Yale University. I had already changed my major twice. I began as a premed student, because I had an elaborate fantasy about becoming an emergency room doctor, fast on my feet, saving lives, engaging in torrid affairs with my fellow doctors, sex in on-call rooms, living a grand life. And then I took introductory biology with a professor who told the hundreds of eager students sitting before him that his class was designed to separate the biology dilettantes from the students who had the potential to become doctors. As the semester progressed, I was slow to make sense of the course material and quick to understand that I was one of the dilettantes he was so eager to dissuade from the medical profession.

At the beginning of my sophomore year, I decided I would be an architect. My father is a civil engineer, so I hoped that an understanding of structures was part of my genetic inheritance. I loved my architecture classes. I loved building models and imagining what structures could be. In an urban planning class, I learned about how a city is designed and the importance of green space. In the studio, late at night, I would cut cork sheets with my X-Acto knife, and sometimes my hands. I had good ideas, but I struggled with physics, the laws of gravity, and designing structures that could realistically exist.

I worked part-time in a computer lab in the cross-campus underground library. I loved technical theater and spent an inordinate amount of time on drama productions, designing and building sets, running soundboards, doing whatever needed to be done to make a show come alive from behind the scenes. Finally, at the end of my sophomore year, I settled on English. I loved reading and I loved writing, so surely studying reading and writing would be a natural fit. I moved with a roommate into an apartment off-campus above a small grocery store. I monopolized the phone line and used a modem to navigate the early internet, which is to say I spent a lot of time talking to strange men about sex. I pretended to be anyone but myself, hoping I could lose myself in the virtual world. I wanted to lose myself because I was losing my mind. I was breaking beneath the pressure of trying to be the good daughter and the perfect student when I was so desperately far from perfect. I was carrying a secret and using food to fill an ever-expanding void inside myself. And then, a few weeks before the semester began, I disappeared.

In the ensuing years, my life has changed radically, and so has the world. As I write this, we are in the midst of an intense and seemingly unceasing collective trauma. Donald Trump’s reign as president and the grandest disgrace in American history is just behind us. The world has been ravaged by a pandemic that is particularly out of control in the United States. We have a new president, but a record number of people are going hungry as unemployment rises, along with the number of families falling

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Reviews

What people think about Writing into the Wound

4.6
154 ratings / 18 Reviews
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Reader reviews

  • (4/5)
    It was a terrifying and aesthetic story I loved it..
  • (5/5)
    I think, overall, this is one of the best and most exciting shorter reads. Gay brings up many useful points to consider (related to the overlap between writing and trauma). Finished reading wanting more.
  • (5/5)
    I was oddly enough deeply comforted by this book , the words don't hide the truth being spoken. This book is not hiding behind anything, if you take everything personally and are offended easily , take this book as an exercise for personal growth and to recognize that you too can say "I too possess toxic traits I still need to work on and dismantle " . Anyway I loved this.
  • (4/5)
    Awesome novel. I love it. You can join in NovelStar writing contest with a theme "WEREWOLVES" Prices are amazing! https://author.starlight.ink/essay/index.html (PC) http://app.novelstar.top/index/index/special/id/87 or email any of the following editors; hardy@novelstar.top joye@novelstar.top lena@novelstar.top app.novelstar.top
  • (5/5)
    The story is compelling. Good job writer! If you have some great stories like this one, you can publish it on Novel Star, just submit your story to hardy@novelstar.top or joye@novelstar.top
  • (4/5)
    Great story; I love how it was given. Good job writer! If you have some great stories like this one, you can publish it on Novel Star, just submit your story to hardy@novelstar.top
  • (5/5)


    Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body (2017), and Writing into the Wound: Understanding Trauma, Truth and Language (2021)
    .
    Roxane Gay
    .
    What is helpful to hoarders and children of hoarders?
    In preparation to write this review of Hunger which I read in 2017, I listened to Roxane Gay and Debbie Millman on Brene Brown’s Unlocking Us podcast – the first hour a quite lovely recount of their love story. This is no sidebar: where Hunger illustrates the loneliness and longing of being fat, this conversation is a celebration, a blossoming. The woman who was scolded because “I didn’t wash dishes correctly… /Don’t get water on the floor/,” (H, pg.226) now bakes elaborate cakes for her loved ones. So much quality of life and self care is stigmatised through fatphobia and the policing of fat bodies.
    .
    Gay’s essay Writing into the Wound addresses the phenomenology of writing the trauma at the core of Hunger and the retraumatising incurred when this book went out into the world. It is not so much readers fumbling with their responses that hurts Gay here, but the “professional” journalists who fail, the feast or famine of respect and dignity.
    .
    Where do hoarders and CoH fall through the cracks?
    Writing into the Wound explores an ethics of writing – and reading – trauma.
    .
    “How do we convey the realities of trauma and its aftermath without being exploitative? How do we write trauma without traumatizing the reader? How do we write trauma without re-traumatizing ourselves when we write from personal experience? How do we write trauma without cannibalizing ourselves? How do we write about the traumatic experiences of others without transgressing their boundaries or privacy?” (WITW, pg.19)
    .
    People who are fat, and who have hoarding behaviours – with “unruly bodies and unruly appetites” (H. pg.9) - very rarely hold autonomy of our narratives.
    .
    Is it anticapitalist?
    Yes. Gay contextualises our experiences – personal and collective traumas - as the consequences of overarching capitalism, white supremacy and patriarchy. “We are opening our eyes to the grotesque inequalities that arise from a handful of people hoarding the majority of the world’s wealth.” (WITW, pg.37) 
    .
    @ minimum_2_ on IG
  • (5/5)
    I'm beginning - again - to write my memoir. Reading "Writing into the Wound" has inspired and given me several real tools to add to my writing toolbox. Thank you Ms. Gay.
  • (5/5)
    As a writer of trauma, I was excited to discover this, and devoured it in one sitting. I appreciate everything she writes on this topic, and Writing into the Wound is no exception. Thank you for this, I only wish it was longer! The world needs to better understand trauma, to read about it, to inspire writers to dare to write about it, around it, and deeply into it. Writing in the Wound can help.
  • (5/5)
    Stunning! Thank you for sharing...truly! I found this si breathtakingly truthful and heart opening.
  • (4/5)
    I wasn't sure what to expect. I didn't know if it would be a 'how to write into the wound' book or not. It wasn't quite that. When she talks about the fallout of 'Hunger' it opened my mind to the idea that sometimes telling the whole story is at the cost of your own well-being. We always hear that telling the sordid details is cathartic. My takeaway is that it might not be. Sometimes too much isn't freeing---it's just...too much.
    This is my first experience with Ms. Gay's writing. I really appreciated how frank she was about recent current events ie. the pandemic, George Floyd, Trump's failures etc. I found myself nodding a lot and agreeing.
  • (5/5)
    Roxanne Gay, Writing into the Wound, Understanding Trauma, Scribd, 2/19/21

    I'm grateful for Roxanne Gay's writing. The power, vulnerability and fluidity of her words reach my heart and inspire my mind. As a memoirist in development and a fellow “architect of their own vulnerability” I appreciate Gay’s framing of the importance of the audience, the reader and her guidance to be wary not to indulge in confession and assume trauma’s function only as “pornographic,” an “easy way to create narrative tension,” but to work to portray “flawed people who hurt and who were hurt,” and not just as victims and villains.

    Reading this, I wished to be one of those fifteen chosen undergrads, but as a mom on the brink of her mid-century, I am super excited to put on my life-long student hat in her newly released MasterClass.
  • (5/5)
    Another brilliant essay from Roxane Gay. I was riveted to every word.
  • (5/5)
    If I have to name the dominant feeling inside me after reading this, it is gratitude. Dr. Gay is vulnerable and strong in a way that I don’t understand, but do admire. This read was perfectly timed, for me, personally. And I think it is also “timely” in the collective sense.
    Don’t we all feel just a little too raw these days? Aren’t we all grasping at the straws of our once tidy lives? This piece says “yes, it is unraveling. It always was, and here’s how to find the loose thread and pull it gently and spool the yarn. Collect it and weave something new.” Thank you for showing me how.
  • (5/5)
    I wish I had a print copy of this. Roxane Gay, again, shows us why she is one of the greatest writers living today.
  • (5/5)
    Roxane Gay never ceases to amaze me. Her work is so important. Loved this essay and looking forward to the full book release!
  • (4/5)
    Awesome novel. I love it. You can join in NovelStar writing contest with a theme "WEREWOLVES" Prices are amazing! https://author.starlight.ink/essay/index.html (PC) http://app.novelstar.top/index/index/special/id/87 or email any of the following editors; hardy@novelstar.top joye@novelstar.top lena@novelstar.top app.novelstar.top
  • (5/5)

    1 person found this helpful

    You nailed it again! Your writing speaks on many levels and illuminates, educates, gives voice for many. Thank you!!!

    1 person found this helpful