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Writing and Healing Idea #31: Locating a Turning Point

Posted on Mar 6, 2016 by

I’m interested in the point during a difficult time when things might begin to turn.  I’m interested in that moment when something new happens—when an entirely new possibility begins to emerge out of the chaos.  Even if its only a glimpse—an image—the embryo of an image—or maybe just a story—or a boook.

In Folly, a novel by Laurie King, the turning point for Rae, the central character, comes by way of a book.  While in the psychiatric hospital, trying to recover, longing to return to home and work, but at the same time terrified, this happens:

Into this tangle of inchoate yearnings and inexpressible fears had dropped a book, one of those strangely assorted and badly worn paperbacks abandoned by patients or donated by the carton to such places as mental hospitals.  It was missing its cover and the first dozen pages, but the remainder fell into Rae’s confused and heavily sedated mind like a seed into loam.

A book about a man building a house.

And, after she reads it:

Great-uncle Desmond’s skeletal home came to her as in a dream. In truth, during those months most things came to her as in a dream, but this one did not fade.  Instead, it blossomed swiftly into full potential:  She would pull herself together, she would go and rebuild Desmond’s house, she would lift his walls and dwell within them quietly all the rest of her days.  Everything that House was lay there waiting for her to take it up: House as shelter, House as permanence, House as continuation and a legacy, comfort and challenge, safety and beauty, symbol and reality joined as one.

House as turning point.

A book about a house serving as a turning point.

I have this notion that if we could become better readers of such turning points—if we could see them—and recognize them—in stories—then we might become more skillful at recognizing them in our own lives.  Oh.  I wonder if that could be a turning point—some new opportunity—a way out.

The idea then: to pay attention to a story—your own or a story you’re reading or from a film—and write about that moment when things, however faintly, and perhaps even tenuously, begin to turn. 

How does the character recognize the turning point when it occurs?

Is it always clear at the time that it’s a turning point?

Can a story or book itself become a turning point?

You can read more about the book, Folly, here.