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Excerpt from Scratching River beside a photo of Michelle Porter reading aloud

Q&A with Michelle Porter, Scratching River, Part 3

By Clare Hitchens Date: May 26, 2022 Tags: Blog

Clare Hitchens, our Sales and Marketing Coordinator, sat down with Michelle Porter to ask her some questions about Scratching River and her writing process. In this section, Michelle talks about the healing aspects of the story.

CH: Parts of the book are difficult to read emotionally. You say that Scratching River is a story of “love, survival, and hope.” Can you expand on that, especially the word “hope?”

MP: Hope can be a tough nut to crack. Especially in today’s world where so many tough things are happening and yet we all need to know things will be okay, that they can be okay even after the worst has happened to you or to someone you know and love. Writing this book was the process through which hope was returned to me, and I want this story to be a sort of map or guide to others as they search for the hope they may have left behind at some point. I was in my forties when that 14-year-old self spoke to me asking to let her tell her story through this book, and in the process of writing it and rediscovering a trauma I didn’t know I’d had, I found the hope and healing that had been lost by that teenager. I found it in my brother and in properly witnessing his recovery and his return to love, family, and joy — in his own way. This book I think can help anyone who asks, where did my joy go and at what place in my life did I put it down?

CH. What would you like people to take away from the book?

MP: I think we don’t talk about the raw and uncertain process of healing enough. People very often tell stories after being healed. Those are wonderful stories, but the trouble is that the act of having healed changes the way the story is told, the voice changes and details are lost—the loveliness of feeling better impairs our memory as to what it was actually like to be lost. Some of the stories that have most inspired me in my life when I was at a hard time were stories told by people who hadn’t yet healed, who weren’t sure yet about the outcome, stories that were ragged but shining and true. Scratching River is one of those books. I wrote the book from the perspective of the fourteen-year-old girl who was still in the grip of trauma inside of me, and I wrote it as I was discovering her and her trauma and was caught up in its current. In writing this book, I am saying this is what trauma can be like; it can stay hidden and then surprise you, and then you realize a part of you had been looking at the world from that dark place. I am so thankful that other writers have been brave enough to map out their own journeys to healing, and I offer this story as one that might help others create their own healing.