Word Flesh: Writing and Healing

by Haley Littleton April 30, 2015

“What is love, for a woman, the same thing as writing. Laugh. Impossible. Flash on the unnameable, woven of abstractions to be torn apart. Let a body finally venture out of its shelter, expose itself in meaning beneath a veil of words. WORD FLESH. From one to the other, eternally, fragmented visions, metaphors of the invisible.” – Julia Kristeva

What does it mean, what could it possibly mean, to write from the heart? What can it mean to write from and for and in the blooming of and in the midst of and in the losing of love? These are the things I have been thinking of. I can think of the moments of utter heartbreak in my life (lost loves, words that should have never been said, the final departure of people and things never to return, those inevitable goodbyes of chapters that must close), and I wonder what my embodying them through writing has done. As my professor once told me: we don’t go out into life to find pain to write about; it always finds us in the end.

From here, we write. Has doing so memorialized them, idealized them, or, just maybe, redeemed them? I lost a love and, suddenly, my journal was thirty pages full of writing I had been incapable of months before. In fact, I wrote what felt like the first publishable piece of writing after a long, dry spell of cliché. It was as if some seal had been ripped off of me and the words began to pour out, raw and pulsating and powerful. It felt as if I had reached a crossroads and started on a new path. I was writing bits and pieces on slips of paper everywhere I was. I had to get it all out of my head, I told a friend, it was sloshing around in there and it was driving me mad. It was necessary to put these things to paper, to see them materialized in front of me and hear the sound of the words in my mouth. Is this a form proclamation? WORD FLESH, Kristeva writes.

Often times, I feel as though my words are the extension of my flesh. There are certain things we can only materialize about ourselves through words. Body language may help someone know me, but the only way of him or her getting close is by my own offering of word flesh, of the metaphors of the invisible within me. I’ve started to wonder whether this is what writing is: putting metaphors to the invisible pulsing interior life that we all live.

Even our thoughts are manifested into words within us, connecting brain synapse and language into flesh. Kristeva writes that a body may finally venture out of its shelter, expose itself in meaning beneath a veil of words. Through this we tear apart the abstractions of the incommunicable emotions inside of and give them real, living and breathing, words to live inside.

To strive for word flesh is to be vulnerable, attempting to materialize to others who we really are. Living is writing. Communication is writing. Love, for me, is the same thing as writing. You will know me by my words. You will know my love by them, too. I would not venture to say that writing is what has healed my heart, time after time, all the fissures and holes that come with loving and living. There are larger, bigger meanings that undergird me and wrap their healing hands around my flesh.

But, writing has been the proclamation of that healing, of those raw emotions, of that pain and of that love. By writing all of it down, I found that I had to face the emotions, lies, and insecurities that were given flesh, embodied before me. I had to see my pain, name it, and come to terms with it.

In writing these things out, they became their own bodies, their own word flesh, and separated from me. What healing: writing, proclaiming, the pain out of me.   In this sense, writing unites the fragmented visions of pain into continuity, into a metaphor, into a narrative of healing.

Even if no one ever reads the words that flowed from my unsealed, throbbing, soft heart, I have written them. I have given them their own flesh, and that is what matters.




Haley Littleton
Haley Littleton

Author

Haley Littleton is a second year Master’s student at the University of Denver in Literary Studies. A former intern for Ruminate Magazine, Haley writes here and there between her studies and exploring. With an interest in environmental criticism, climbing, and love of craft beer, Haley finds it doubtful she will ever be pulled away from Colorado.



Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.


Also in Ruminate Blog

To be Lost in Space
To be Lost in Space

by Gyasi Byng July 20, 2017

Any honest PhD candidate will tell you that our work can be isolating. Even though a great deal of our work involves interaction (teaching, office hours, comparing notes with colleagues, attending lectures, and sometimes venting with other students about how we never have enough time), the majority of our work requires great stretches of time spent alone. 

Read More

Editors Ruminate: On the Poetry of Issue 43, Opening the Door
Editors Ruminate: On the Poetry of Issue 43, Opening the Door

by Kristin George Bagdanov July 14, 2017 1 Comment

I’ve always loved the etymology of kindness, which comes from kin—those to whom we are bound by choice or genealogy. And yet I often find kindness is most difficult to practice with my family—those who have witnessed just how unkind I can be.

Read More

Finding Space to Write
Finding Space to Write

by Jeremy B Jones July 05, 2017 2 Comments

Last summer, the book project I was in the midst of was mapped out on a drafting table in my writing space: sheets of paper with lists and quotes, photographs and maps, excerpts from 19th century books on gold mining. 

Read More