Author Jessica Knoll is such a clear example of a very precious truth: writing can heal.
Author of New York Times Bestseller Luckiest Girl Alive, Jessica’s book is a fictional account of a very sad, traumatic situation. Describing the trauma that is rape and sexual assault, Jessica has written a novel that sadly speaks to the experience of many across the world.
I personally have not read Luckiest Girl Alive (although I plan to). What struck me so profoundly and led me to share her story was the recent New York times article where Jessica described the fact that at first, she was not ready or willing to admit that her novel was partly autobiographical. For a long time, she signed autographs and gave book talks, conducted book tours and answered questions while denying the fact that the words she had written were based partly on her own experience.
The article doesn’t specifically state what changed Jessica’s mind about being more forthcoming, but in it, she does say this:
“I was so conditioned to not talk about it ( her assault) that it didn’t even occur to me to be forthcoming,” Ms. Knoll said during a recent interview at her publisher’s office in Midtown Manhattan. “I want to make people feel like they can talk about it, like they don’t have to be ashamed of it.”
The article also talks about how Jessica participated in therapy as a young woman, deciding early in her career to fictionalize her tale as a way of sharing it with others. After success with her book and after many young women expressing their gratitude for it, Jessica eventually decided to share her truth. The world is fortunate that she did.
What I am most grateful for about this story is this: the entire process and the way that Jessica came to use her writing to heal both herself and her readers is a testament to the therapeutic power of story. Whether through strict memoir or fictionalized accounts, authors, writers and the general public have the opportunity to experience deeper levels of safety when they share and write their stories. In my own life, I have experienced how writing down my memories, even the foggy, half-shaded ones, has granted me freedom and a sense of weightlessness. My words when shared, have held space for both me and my readers.
I am thankful for the process that Jessica went through. Even with her true intention being hidden for a time, it is an admirable accomplishment and act of faith. As Jessica has done, I aspire to encourage others to do the same with their own words and creative expressions. There is freedom for both ourselves and for others when our stories are being told.
Thank you Ms. Knoll.