Writing is how I make sense of everything. This relatively simple act of expression is extraordinarily cathartic. Trauma and pain are immediately liberated. The truly bizarre and fabulous can shine while simultaneously providing a healthy, sometimes even hysterical release. Mary Gauthier writes in her memoir, Saved By A Song: The Art and Healing Power of Songwriting, “Storytellers have power; they are not voiceless victims. In a song we are given the authority to be the writer of the story instead of the paper it is written on. We become the narrator instead of the narrated, turning our story into something that might be useful to others. The empathy the song generates connects the songwriter to their own pain in a new way, a way that is reparative, rewiring broken circuits. Also, and this is very important, the storyteller can shape the ending, moving the story forward in a brave new way.” Gauthier’s passage speaks to me profoundly. I’m far from where I need to be in writing my own story, but what I have created thus far has given me solace. Gauthier has motivated me to finish my memoir, to share my raw, sometimes repulsive reality. Hopefully, my book, like Gauthier’s will make a difference to someone struggling, hurting, or just needing to know they aren’t alone. Gauthier is not only a talented, award-winning singer/songwriter but also bravely illustrates in her new book the artistry and redemptive power of creativity.
Gauthier guides the reader through her difficult journey of sobriety and self-acceptance which ultimately leads her to giving back in a multitude of wonderful ways. Gauthier has done incredibly moving work with SongwritingWith:Soldiers, a non-profit dedicated to “using songwriting as a catalyst for positive change.” Veterans develop unique ways to share their story to “rebuild trust, release pain, and forge new bonds.” (I’m thrilled to have learned of another tremendous organization to begin supporting.)
Obviously, Gauthier’s biography plays a huge role in helping readers understand and channel tragedy. It also explains the draw to the creative process. A lovely passage which captured me with its immensely accurate analogy states, “Artists are like firemen; when the rest of the world is running away from the explosion, they run to it and report back. Artists feel the heat, touch the burn, write the things they have to write, the particular story they are on fire for, the one that breaks their own heart, the one that only they can tell. The ask is this: no matter how many songs you’ve written – each time, the struggle is to get back to that singular place where it is just you and the fire alone in the room.” This paragraph is spot on, describing brilliantly the feelings experienced by anyone who writes regardless of the product be it a song, poem, story, etc. Writing sometimes feels crazy, especially when you willingly showcase all your vulnerabilities and idiosyncrasies. Gauthier shares writing “helps me to navigate the powerful emotional weather systems of life. When the storms come, as they always do, they provide genuine songwriting motivation. After the wind dies down and the water recedes, I’m driven to try and make sense of what happened, try to make meaning out of what at first glance appears to be chaos. I write songs because I am called to.” Gauthier helped me to realize, I’m really not that nutty after all. It may sound egotistical but writing also calls to me. If you’re needing a glimmer of hope, a reminder creativity is powerful or that it’s pretty darn healthy to write away tribulations, pick-up Gauthier’s Saved By A Song which will be available July 6, 2021.