Get To Know Our Newest Vroman’s Ed Teacher, Diana Raab!

by Jessica on January 8, 2018

On Saturday, January 13th, author Diana Raab will be teaching a
Writer’s Workshop for our Vroman’s Ed Series.
Writing For Bliss with Diana Raab will be held from 12pm-3pm.

We wanted to give you a little look into Diana’s life and how she became a writer,her style and the benefits that writing brings to her.

If you’d like to find out more information about the workshop
please click HERE.

To sign up for this class please give us a call at 626-449-5320.

When and how did you begin writing?

My passion for writing began at the age of ten when my mother gave me a Kahlil Gibran journal after my grandmother/caretaker committed suicide in my childhood home. My mother was an English major in college and suggested that I pour my feelings and sadness onto the pages of my journal. Journaling was instrumental in helping me heal from my loss. Since then, my journal has been my confidant and best friend. I’ve used it to navigate difficult times, and it’s also a place to store memories and creative ideas that later result in poems, essays, and books. My journals have also been an invaluable and integral part of my healing and transformation during transitional times in my life, such as adolescence, three pregnancies laden with bedrest, menopause, and two bouts with cancer.

I am grateful to my mother for her seemingly innocent gesture of giving me a journal that set the platform for my life as an author.

What inspired you to write Writing for Bliss?

Writing for Bliss is a culmination of my life’s work. Ever since my mother gave me that first journal, I have used writing for healing—also the subject of my doctoral work—which focused on the transformative powers of writing a memoir. After getting my PhD, I continued my path of teaching writing-for-transformation workshops.

Some of the results of my research is shared in Writing for Bliss, which includes quotes and excerpts of interviews from famous writers I interviewed. I’ve always had a knack for simplifying complicated information for my readers, which is what I did in Writing for Bliss, where I made my findings accessible for both the general public and academics.

How has your life story shaped your writing of nonfiction and poetry?

I’ve encountered many losses in my life, and since it has been said that survivors are very often seekers, my experiences compelled me to record my feelings and impressions. Also, the creative impulse is connected to a sense of longing. Some people reach out to religious or spiritual paths to help them understand their experiences. For me, writing is my spiritual practice. It’s my “go to” place during both good and bad times. My journal is my friend and confidant, helping me release whatever is bottled up inside of me. It is liberating for me, because by releasing my secrets and sentiments, I become free and have more control over my life. Writing also helps me find out what I don’t know; and increases my awareness of myself, others, and the world-at-large.

What are some unexpected benefits of writing about one’s life?

In addition to being a container for one’s thoughts and a way to release tension, writing about feelings and experiences is an excellent way to find out what you don’t know. In my research of writers who have written memoirs, many confessed that they began writing their memoirs for one reason, and during the writing process realized they were writing for a completely different reason. For example, one author wrote in order to figure out why his brother committed suicide, but by the time he’d made it to the end of his book, he realized that writing about his brother was a way to keep him alive.

What is the mind, body and spirit connection when it comes to writing for healing?

 To maximize the quality of the writing you do, it’s important to have a balanced body, mind, and spirit, which are forces of energy that work together and react to one another in either a positive or a negative way. Connecting the body, mind, and spirit is a way to keep the energy flowing in your body. When your energy flow is in balance, your state of being is altered, which affects your overall physical and psychological health. With your body, mind, and spirit in balance, you also feel joy more easily. You are respectful of yourself and others, and you have a sense of life purpose. This balance or sense of harmony can also lead to feelings of euphoria or bliss.

  Most good writing begins with the body, because the way we experience and describe our experiences or feelings is with our senses—seeing, touching, tasting, smelling, and hearing. Writing from the heart is important, because our hearts are usually truth holders. When we talk about the mind, we usually refer to the self or the person we consciously perceive ourselves to be. When opening ourselves to spirit, we’re opening and connecting ourselves to the world beyond the mind.

Spirituality means different things to different people. I view it as an understanding and recognition of a certain sense of interconnectedness among people. It’s a reminder that we are not alone and that everything we do has the potential to affect others. Spirituality is also about relaxing into our own sense of being and about finding our bliss, which is often a lifelong journey during which we search for meaning and purpose.

What is it about writing that is healing and transformative?

Writing is healing and transformative because it’s a way to nurture yourself. Free-writing, in particular, which is writing without lifting your pen off the page, can be liberating and healing because you go wherever your mind takes you. Virginia Woolf called this “stream-of- consciousness writing,” and it simply involves going with the flow of your words.

That’s the beauty of this type of writing. You sometimes don’t know what’s bottled up deep inside of you until you begin putting pen to paper. For example, you might begin by writing about your day at work, and then before you know it, you’re writing about the issues you had with your mother. Free-writing is also one way, in addition to dreams, to tap into your subconscious mind.

Transformation may be defined as a dramatic change in your physical and psychological well-being. Writing poetry transforms, because if you write about a particular event in your life, you might have revelations about it that can lead to transformation. The deeper you go into writing about a certain subject, the greater the chance of transformation. If you share your writing, others can be transformed by your words, especially if your story resonates with them or they have navigated similar journeys. Ultimately, healing, transformation, and empowerment are all parts of the same path—leading to self-awareness, self-discovery, growth and, eventually, bliss.

Do you have any rituals prior to writing?

I meditate twice a day, which usually coincides with the time before I write. Prior to actually sitting down to write, I usually make sure I have a glass of water and a cup of tea or coffee beside me. I clear my desk of any distractions, shut off my cell phone, light my white candle, and take some deep breaths in and out. Sometimes I enjoy listening to classical or spiritual music, but it depends on my mood or what I’m writing about. In Writing for Bliss, I share additional tips for getting into the writing “zone.”