by Libby Sommer:
Sometimes when people read my stories they assume those stories are me. They are not me, even if I write in the first person. They were my thoughts and feelings at the time I wrote them. But every minute we are all changing. There is a great freedom in this. At any time we can let go of our old selves and start again. This is the writing process. Instead of blocking us, it gives us permission to move on. Just like in a progressive ballroom dance: you give your undivided attention to your partner—keep eye contact for the time you are dancing together—but then you move on to the next person in the circle.
The ability to express yourself on the page—to write how you feel about an old lover, a favourite pair of dance shoes, or the memory of a dance on a chilly winter’s night in the Southern Highlands—that moment you can support how you feel inside with what you say on the page. You experience a great freedom because you are not suppressing those feelings. You have accepted them, aligned yourself with them.
I have a poem titled ‘This is what it feels like’. It’s a short poem. I always think of it with gratitude because I was able to write in a powerful way how it was to be desperate and frightened. The act of self expression made me feel less of a victim. But when people read it they often say nothing. I remind myself, I am not the poem, I am not the stories I write. People react from where they are in their own lives. That’s the way things are. The strength is in the act of writing, of putting pen to paper. Write your stories and poems, show them to the world, then move on. The stories are not you. They are moments in time that pass through you.
What is your experience?