Melissa Petro on The Writing Cure


Melissa Petro, whose Rumpus essay “Not Safe For Work” contributed to getting her fired from a teaching job, writes in this month’s The New Inquiry about what she calls “The Writing Cure”—how writing about traumatic or damning life events offers a cure for often denied or disassociated feelings of victimization and shame.

To the writers she addresses as she hands off the torch of confessional memoir, Petro offers a cautionary observation derived from her experience of taking her story public:

 …[T]he relief the telling brings must compete with the challenge of sharing the story, as the writer confronts a society that promotes the forgetting or ignoring or downplaying of such stories. Indeed, when victims of trauma share their experience, the response is overwhelmingly one of suppression.

Dawn Pier is a developmental editor who blogs at the Rumpus, the travelogue, and Dawn Revealed, a personal blog about her adventures surfing and living in Baja. She is working on a memoir about moving to Mexico to learn to surf and save a coral reef. More from this author →