Tips for writing a letter

Writing a letter to your homeland is a way of starting a conversation.  it might be a very familiar conversation or one that has stalled or faded into history.   It might be a step to reconnecting and, at least on paper, revisiting your homeland.

  • letter_wide-114373157624ef432f57452b56c2eb19289fd314-s6-c30Writing a letter helps us revisit and re-orchestrate (perhaps ore on our own terms) the conversations with ourselves and our life stories.
  • There is a deliberate ambiguity in who is the addressee of the Dear Homeland letter.  It might be nostalgic or forgetful, resentful or a mixture of many feelings.  
  • It will only emerge in the course of writing the letter or in reading it out aloud afterwards.
  • Write side by side with others so that you can share the journey.
  • Sit at a table.
  • Have paper and pens
  • Talk first for about twenty minutes about the main images and memories of your homeland.  Your writing partner can put the key words in big print spread out on the paper.  This will help you keep a flow to your writing when you write and remind you of the different parts to your letter.
  • When you have helped each other get a first ‘word map’ of the possible elements of your homeland letter then give each other space and time to write a first draft of your letter on your own.
  • Write as quickly and as spontaneously as you can and then read it and amend.
  • If you don’t feel at ease or confident in writing  find someone to write as you speak.  Or audio record it and play it back or then ask some get someone to type it out.
  • Reading out your letter is important.  We think that  giving voice to what we have written helps us connect with it in more ways.
  • There may be one place in your homeland memories that is gateway  to other connections.    Write directly to it, as if it is a like a person in your life.
  • Let the writing wander but keep reminding yourself of the place your are addressing in this letter.  Use the word map to help you keep track.   You’re hoping for a conversational journey with yourself now and to the place you came from.
  • Sometimes it works to be writing  spontaneously, as you might if rushing an email or postcard before catching a flight,  allows connections to be made in surprising and less linear ways. You can edit or revise afterwards but for the start you want to keep up the flow.
  • Don’t try and be clever or romantic with words.  It is not poetry or an essay.  The poetry will come naturally from the letter.  It is writing as a prompt for conversation.  Now and then words which are memorable or significant for you will ring out  and something real and conversationally poetic will emerge.
  • Do try and be true to your memories and describe what you remember accurately.  Don’t be flowery with words as if promoting your homeland to visitors or admirers.  It is natural and tempting to do this and worth commenting on and noticing if you do but it may be wandering away from the truth.
  • Once you have read the letter out talk about it.
  • When you are ready: some days or weeks later, write a letter back from your homeland (one or more of the places that you addressed in the letter) back to you personally.
  • There may be letters within letters.  If connection with another part of your homeland comes up  it may call for starting another letter.
  • If your writing gets stuck allow yourself to free associate using the mapping of  those places and groups that you associate with earlier parts of your life. also if you get stuck ask someone to gently ask you a number of times: Where are you from? Write a paragraph or post card to each of them. You want to tell what you remember and find out how your relationship is now.
  • Look at the examples of letters on these pages for guidance or inspiration.  Letters 

We hope the letters that are being gathered and shared on this site and the conversations that they encourage will help you write your own letter and share it with who you wish to.  We welcome letters to be shared here but even more welcome you to write your own letter as part of a revisiting of a conversation with your homeland.

 

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