Shelley Widhalm

Writing the Way to Forgiveness

In Novel editing, Writing on October 2, 2011 at 7:00 am

With or without writing, I probably would have reached the same final emotion when I finished my novel: forgiveness.

This feeling arrived as if instant messaging me the day I completed my sixth edit. On that Sunday morning two weeks ago, I saw that I was finally done with “One April Day”– I had conducted enough repair work on the manuscript that I felt ready to start looking for an agent.

As I wrote, I didn’t expect to forgive, but the feeling came anyway. I wrote a fictionalized account of what had happened to me out of anger and curiosity – I wanted to tell the story of my layoff from a newspaper, a falling out with friends and my search for meaning in the upheaval.

I knew I needed to forgive, not for the sake of those who I should have let go, but for my own placidity. When this unsought for feeling hit me, I saw that the repair work had been on me.

I’m not sure how, but writing the story started my process of self-exploration. When I edited and reread the story, I found nuances both in my words and what I was trying to say. My loss entered the paper, like water needing to be wiped away, and became no longer mine.

The loss became a memory, something to stop holding onto after analyzing it from the angles of art and thought.

With that release, I didn’t have to drag along the past, like tin cans attached to a tailpipe. I could start the day and the next with a completed manuscript and a sewed up heart without the entanglements of what-ifs or I-should-have’s.

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  1. I think we far too often forget the power that writing has on the writer, and only remember what is does to the reader. I think what you have done is the most beautiful kind of writing.

  2. blog = open, honest, heartfelt.
    this may be a bit unorthodox, but in today’s publishing market one needs to stand out…sooo, i’m suggesting an idea…
    maybe this blog would be a great precursor to sending your book proposal to an agent.
    perhaps if you send the blog post as a letter of introduction you might land yourself just the representation your looking for.

  3. congratulations on not only working on yr art, but letting yr art work for you. now get thee to an agent and keep growing. yr an ispiration.

  4. When I have processed the saying “forgive and forget”, I have thought it to mean forgive the bad deed and forget it as though it never happened. That has never fully sat well with me.

    I now would rather think of forgive the bad deed and move on from the pain/hurt it has caused you by turning to something better.

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