I belong to several writing groups in Auckland and sometimes I receive invitations to visit the groups that form at the conclusion of my life writing and memoir courses. Recently one group set a writing exercise ‘Life Writing is…’ On the day before the meeting I sat down and wrote for twenty minutes beginning with the statement ‘Life Writing is…’ Very rapidly the writing developed into an elegy for my friend and a commentary on a grieving process. This is something I have observed in my teaching, that a writer will always use the writing prompt to explore the matters closest to her heart.
Life writing is for me my confidante and friend and teacher. It is my solace and consolation offering a pause in the swirl of a busy life to go down to the blue pool by the river and sit under the green willows to ponder and reflect and discover what is going on inside my head and heart. The practice of life writing provides me with a method to record the simple things that arrive each day like a gift from the heavens, and to remember people, and sometimes to write through a pain, or a depression, or through a grief, which is what I must do today.
Elegy for Anne Ruthe