Trauma is a force that can’t be avoided. It’s disruptive, defining, and universal. We all experience it in some form, whether it’s the death of a parent, an intense break up, or something else. It’s no wonder why so many writers and artists make art about trauma, personal and fictionalized – we want to be able to relate to our audiences.
But writing about trauma can be a tricky thing. It can be triggering and retraumatizing for both the writer and the reader. So how do we write about trauma in a way that is authentic and respectful? Camonghne Felix faced this challenge when writing her book Dyscalculia.
Felix knew it was important to include the authenticity of her trauma, but also to help inoculate her reader from the trauma. She found a way to do both by writing into a healing narrative instead of a trauma narrative. She included moments of humor to show that even in the midst of pain, there can be moments of levity.
When writing about trauma, it’s important to remember that readers need to know that there’s an end to trauma’s harm. We have a responsibility to take care of our readers and ourselves when writing about trauma. We can build techniques that allow us plenty of authenticity and restraint so that we aren’t exploiting our own stories and traumas for the sake of being read. Dyscalculia is a great example of how to do this successfully.