ReWriting the Stories We Tell Ourselves

I am a writer. I “hear” ideas in my mind—usually in the form of spoken words—and they push on the inside of my skull, trying to get out into the world. I’ve been writing poetry since I was very young and I have a few fables in progress, but mostly I write memoir and creative non-fiction. My husband and I co-authored a book that was published in 2010, and I’ve written many blog posts and articles. For the past two decades, I’ve used my writing to create content for workshops and project-related materials. I’m grateful for all these opportunities to contribute to public discourse on race
At the beginning of 2021, I crossed into the 4th phase of my life and shifted my focus from facilitating workshops to writing full-time. My blog posts and books will live in this space.
I am a rewriter. When I have an experience, I talk to myself about it, often subconsciously, and that self-talk triggers certain emotions and reactions. Basically I’m telling myself a story about what happened and what it means. It is the meaning I ascribe to the incident, rather than the incident itself, that determines how I respond. I believe this is true for all humans. Sometimes my story triggers emotions that are unhealthy, counterproductive, or disunifying; maybe those feelings lead to actions that promote injustice or block the flow of love. That’s when I need to rewrite. If I reframe the incident—that is, I tell myself a different story about what just happened—then I will experience different feelings that will prompt a new set of actions.
You’ll see references to this process throughout my articles and stories.


About Phyllis

Phyllis Unterschuetz is a writer, storyteller, and co-author of Longing: Stories of Racial Healing. She is currently working on her second book, a memoir about finding the courage to tell her abortion story. Phyllis is the recipient of the 2024 “Telling True Stories” Fellowship from the Writers’ Colony at Dairy Hollow. She has three grown children and one in the spiritual world, six grandchildren, and a great-granddaughter. Phyllis and her husband live just outside Atlanta.                     
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Watch Phyllis’ storytelling video 
“The Promise: A Lesson in White Privilege”  

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Once a month I’ll send you a story about rewriting, updates on the progress of my memoir, and other interesting writer-type stuff.