Last month, I published four separate poems on my website blog and titled them “The Farewell Letters.” In each of these individual poetic letters, I addressed portions of my life such as my childhood, my emergence into adulthood, and facing new beginnings. While I understood the significance of each of these individual aspects of my life–as well as many others–it wasn’t until I completed each poem that I recognized their collective impact on my experiences and my identity.
But why is this significant to my writing? How do they reflect on my writing process? And how do these “letters” impact my path?
Personally, I’m not a fan of publically posting my personal reflections. However, this reflection is not a confession of my life, but instead a conversation on how life events impact our writing identities and practices.
Why did I reflect through the Farewell Letters?
As I wrote the Farewell Letters, I was processing more than the words on the page: I was also processing moving across the country. During the course of 3 months, I packed up and sent my stuff to California–where my parents had moved from over 15 years ago to raise our family. In a sense, I’ve moved “home,” but I’ve also moved away from my past. Processing and reflecting on this was essential if I wanted to have a successful move.
Furthermore, writing the Farewell Letters was also a process of claiming my capacity to write in different genres. I’ve always had a strange love for poetry, but have historically struggled to write within the assumed limits of the genre. It wasn’t until my last year of my undergraduate degree that I actually took a poetry workshop, and got a poem published in my college’s annual literary publication. Essentially, the Farewell Letters was a self-made journey to fully assert, recognize, and accept myself.
Of course, I also love sharing my writing with others, hence the posting of them publically on my blog. However, posting the Farewell Letters also gave me a sense of finality.
How is reflection a part of the writing process?
I’ve heard many of my fellow writers discuss their writing process, and everytime I talk with a writer or author about it, they always come to the same conclusion:
The writing process is a part of them.
Necessarily, the question of how writers utilize the writing process within their life varies from person to person. Some use writing as a way of letting off steam, others use it as a way of escaping difficulties, and others write for the pure enjoyment of it. Call it a routine or a lifestyle; call it self care or a hobby. All of these reasons for writing allow individual writers to reflect on their life and come to terms with good, the bad, the ugly, the beautiful, and the *darned*.
Fundamentally, many writers–myself included–agree that the writing process is something that informs their life. In this way, the writing process is a form of reflection.
How can we use writing to look forward?
When we write, we reflect and process. Therefore, when we accept our writing we are also accepting ourselves. Of course, this can be difficult sometimes, but writing can give us tools to move through self doubt and criticism. By writing, we can reflect, process, accept, and heal.
Through these steps, writing allows us to open our minds and not just move through the past and present, but opens up a world of possibilities and encourages us to look forward.
How do you use writing to process your life? Why is writing an important part of your identity? How have you grown as a writer, and how does this impact your writing process?