If I had to choose one woman who inspired my success as a writer, it’s diarist Anaïs Nin. It is not so much her life that inspires me, but it was the way she expressed herself on the page. She had this way of writing as if she was writing or talking to her best friend. Her writing was accessible, deep and honest. Because she was fascinated with psychology and people’s motivations, her writing was explorative and insightful. She put a magnifying glass on her life and all her relationships.
I began to study the works of Nin during my MFA in Writing at Spalding University while working on my memoir, Regina’s Closet: Finding My Grandmother’s Secret Journal. My first connection with her was that we were both traumatized by a loss at the age of eleven which changed our lives altogether. Nin’s father deserted her family and my grandmother took her life in my childhood home. Both of us turned to our diaries to help ease the stings of our losses. Nin kept journals for the remaining 63 years of her life until her death in 1977. I have been journaling for the past 46 years.
To honor Anaïs Nin, I dedicated my second collection of poetry to her. I was honored to have her dear friend, Tristine Rainer, write the book’s Preface. The book was published in 2007 and is called, Dear Anaïs: My Life in Poems for You.
Below is a letter I wrote to her in the beginning of the collection:
Ever since discovering your journals ten years ago, they’ve been stacked on my bedside table. Although I’ve read the collection from beginning to end, these days I find myself randomly flipping through to read one of your many compelling passages. Your words have inspired my own and for years, whenever I am stuck or the words don’t flow, I’ve turned to your diaries for inspiration.
Some time ago, I wrote a letter to your brother, Joaquin, but much to my chagrin, he never wrote back. I looked for any, albeit minute, connection to your spirit and some way to show my appreciation for your presence in my life.
Even without this connection, I dedicate this book of poems to you. These poems were all born in my journal tell the story of my life. They were all written from my heart and fluctuate from a deep place of pain to a high state of joy.
You’ve taught me the intrinsic value of the written word, and also taught me the importance of having love in my life. For these two gifts, I thank you.
Causes Diana Raab Supports
Journaling, Writing for Healing, American Foundation For Suicide Prevention,