Written by families together at workshops or events
For many people. writing or talking about their experience can be very valuable. We welcome people sharing with their experience or thoughts through writing. We have run creative writing workshops at some of our family days, where the group work on a piece of writing together, each contributing to it. The finished results are often very poignant, powerful and a real work of collaboration.
This is a method often used to push through writer’s block. It frees you up and can feel quite liberating. It’s often called ‘free writing’.
Nobody will ever read it. You don’t even have to read it over yourself afterwards if you don’t want to. All you need is a sheet of paper, a pen, and a timer (you can use your phone). You can start with a 3 minute workout if you prefer and if it works for you, time yourself in 15 minute blocks.
The rules are: none of the usual writing rules apply. So forget writing in sentences, punctuation, spelling, grammar. Just write down whatever comes into your head. If you feel yourself getting stuck, write down flower names or fruit or animal names. As long as your pen keeps moving across the page, you’re getting it out and that’s the aim of the exercise.
If you want to, you can read it later yourself. You’d be surprised at what comes out. A word, a phrase, a thought may strike you. If you do read it over you might like to highlight some words. It can be quite powerful to do this and might just end up as part of a poem.
We usually journal in the first person. Again, it’s up to you as to whether you want to free write or follow the rules of punctuation, spelling and grammar.
For this exercise, try some journal entries in the 3rd person. This allows you to maintain a certain distance from what is, essentially your own story. It can be an interesting exercise.
Instead of e.g. “This morning when I woke the first thing I did was reach for my phone.”
This becomes “This morning when she/he woke the first thing she/he did was reach for her phone.”
Immediately it reads like a story about someone else, which again, can feel quite liberating.
The Way you…
There’s a writing exercise that gives you the beginning of a sentence, then you have to finish the sentence and this sentence then acts as the springboard into a story. You can adapt this to create your own poetry from your memories.
Finishing the memory: The way you…
Putting some memories together can lead to the basis for a poem. This might be an exercise you would like to try at home or with other members of the family.
Writing a letter to the person who you are missing. What would you like to say to them? What would you like them to know?
This can feel very cathartic and can also help you not only to ‘get it out’ but also get it out in public. It’s possible to keep your blog private but you can choose to share it. Be prepared for comments and bear in mind that you may be taken by surprise to learn that someone you know (or a stranger) is aware of whatever it is you have chosen to blog about.
Can be very helpful and some people find it has a therapeutic value, feeling that by sharing their situation and how it makes them feel, obstacles they encounter and things they find helpful, it might help other people.
There are a number of different blogging platforms on the internet where you can start up a blog for free.
Written by families together at workshops or events
When I was a child, I held seashells to my ear to hear the wind.
Echoes of the Sea.
This shell, smooth and full of time
has many stories to tell.
Fibonacci perfection, the feeling of a shark’s tooth touch.
Creamy surface becoming milk coffee pearl.
The centre whispering secrets.
The shell reminds me of being at seaside when I was a child.
I can hear the sea when I put the shell up to my ear.
It’s the sound of the sea.
Nature’s harsh carapace, helter-skelter of the deep.
Hiding sonorous oceans, once wet
with the mighty waves and within
a hermit. Who?
06/10/2018 Family Members
V.A, C.A, A.G, S.G, T.I
Stillness and tranquillity
In the mind and around me.
Sparkle in the icy ground
And blue sky above me.
Cold blue waves
Against a white curve.
Solid in my hand.
See the crystals glisten
In the passing light.
Harsh and strong.
Edges to hurt.
Colours to love.
Gentle waves on granite.
Patterns to remember,
Family members M.O, J.B, T.O
In a moment of stillness
I find peace in the flicker of a candle
My mum always lights a candle for my sister
She has a little shrine with a picture of her.
In this photograph, she smiles, and she looks at the photographer.
Smooth hewn turning sphere of golden magic with black filled holes.
Round, smooth and holding the fire.
The fire in my heart, flaming with desire.
So perfect- no flaws
Everything comes full circle. But when!
A smooth circle, of strong wood, never-ending- no beginning- no end, like my love for my family
Life goes on in circles; we wait for news of you; our journey has not been smooth, we keep a candle burning;
As a living tree, I wonder about all of the life that you saw pass by…
One piece of wood, looking like one globe of the world. What if the world looked like this?
Soft curving marble-lie around the hard-soft surface of the moon
In a moment of tranquillity, the globe stops revolving.
All is still, frozen in time, just like our memories
Family members and Missing People staff 2020
V.N, V.A, M.J, R.S, J.S, T.O, M.T, B.S, C.M, M.M
“Just so you know, we found a bone
As yet, identity’s unknown
There’s confirmation to be done
But it could be your missing son.
We cannot tell you very much
It’s likely press will be in touch
It’s quite important you’re aware
You could be in the public glare.
We were lucky to find this
These things are so easy to miss.
And it seems strange that this was found
Beside a tree near the playground
By a lady and her son
As they went for their morning run
They were really quite upset
We haven’t checked in with them yet.
This could mean a big breakthrough
And could be closure now, for you.
We’re sure you must feel satisfied
At least you’ll know that he has died.
We’ll let you know if it is him
Love, hope, whisper, singing, dancing, joy, dreaming, family
Free-flowing, self-healing, essence, feel, creation, joy, free to fly freedom
Time, beautiful, destiny, strength, energy, originality, music, art
Retrospect, respect, truthful, sensitive, enquiring, bright, value, love
Lost, soulmate, limbo of darkness
Outwardly, calm, inwardly, screaming, present, our, lives, stars
Breathe, crumbling, control, cackles
Emotional, faces look back, thinking, crying inside, attending, everyday away
Love wings to fly, far away, open heart, free, love, screaming, heartache, mothers love, broken, come home
Voice, hugs, dancing, empty, the world is turning but I can’t move, paralysed, living in a parallel world
Glimpses of fresh bursts of vibrant joy
Stiffness like a termite scrambles through fragile stumbling stations
Sadness is natural
Sunshine brings out the best in everyone
I am here
Hide behind sorrow
Family members at the Creative Writing session, Family Day 2021
I am driving Nina part way to Hastings to visit her dad, and we decide we will stop off for a walk, despite the gruesome weather. The chosen destination is Firle Beacon, a place with which we are vaguely familiar, from when Nina did the South Downs Way in 2020. It is the usual landscape, green rolling hills, a metallic structure at the peak for lord knows what, three hundred and sixty degree views, and miles and miles of country paths. Normally, you would be able to see the sea just east of Brighton, and look across to the other rolling hills of Ditchling beacon, as well as a smattering of villages and farms in all directions.
But today it is misty, and blustery, and I do not think I will see much. I am still in my post-operative recovery, ten weeks after my second hip operation, and I feel fragile on country paths. It is the mud, boot-sole-thick and squelchy, glassy and treacherous. I cannot afford to slip, so I have a stick with me, to steady my stride, and help me if I feel my feet about to slide from beneath me.
Nina gets out of the car first, as is her way, and is already stomping off with the dog in the opposite direction to the way I intend to walk. I am slow to get out of the car, used to shortening the length of walk I undertake to thirty minutes or thereabouts, and it has become a routine for me to loiter in the car for a few minutes, sometimes even longer, driven by my annoying but habitual need to check my phone, or time-waste by playing a game. Today, I am simply gathering belongings – hats, gloves, coat, the stick, but I have become slow and elderly in the way I move, and Nina is already at the first gate on the other side of the car park by the time I emerge. She is going against the wind, and later tells me she could feel it pushing her on.