The vast majority of the writers I have contacted about the Letters to My Ex anthology have embraced the concept right away: it’s about women and connection. The letters are written to an unnamed, often male recipient, but it’s not about men at all.
A friend recently suggested it might be best to spell out the ‘what’s in it for me’ factor. Since I’ve had a few people write to me asking about payment (there’s no payment), I’m going to address this perfectly reasonable question.
It’s about connection
Letters to My Ex is about having a voice and celebrating it – be it loud, forgiving, angry, thankful, humorous, whatever – and sharing that voice, along with some personal experiences and perceptions, with other women. The key benefit is the same as the drive behind the project; the benefit is connection.
In the early stages of the anthology, I was considering sourcing funding. I have a huge problem with publications like Huffington Post and Elephant Journal (I have previously written for both these publications, but won’t anymore) because quite simply writers should get paid for their work.
Then, I realised…
I really don’t want people writing letters for the anthology in exchange for money. I want letters that come straight from an explosion of the heart, not letters written as a means for payment. Money for work is important. But this project has nothing to do with money on any level. Anthologies are not money-makers and this not a business venture.
But Huffington Post? 100% business. Lift your game, mofos!
It’s about creativity
For me, I like doing things I care about because I am alive, free and creating is part of living. It may not be everyone’s cup of tea and that’s OK.
Creatively, these letters are a challenge. They not only share an emotional journey, but also a piece of the story and experiences surrounding the journey. A piece of you.
Examples of some of the wonderful accepted contributions so far include Author Kim Kelly’s letter acknowledging an enduring friendship in a montage of black lace, terrible sex, and dressing in drag. Hannah van Didden wrote a short, quirky piece titled The Day the Toilet Paper Ran Out. She writes: “This ending is the right choice for me, and it came before the acrimony of a resentful partnership bit in.”
Oh golly, if only we were all that smart…
There is an original copy of a letter which was thrown from Tibbetts Point Lighthouse, USA in 2015, detailing the death of a relationship via infidelity discovered by text messages and the wonders of Whatsapp. There’s an epic letter of a relationship constrained by complex religious rules which were adhered to for appearances sake, yet behind the scenes stood a dark, violent contrast.
A school principal who has never been published (yet my gosh, she is a writer) captures a relationship which endured many loving years, along with differing communication styles, with her and her husband both learning to love beyond words. Then, in the face of his cancer diagnosis, that silence became loud. She writes a touching letter to him after his passing.
For those who have contributed – from published authors to women who have never written before – I truly value the piece of yourself you’ve shared. If you are thinking of contributing, please know that not all pieces can be accepted, but hopefully all writers enjoy the process.
This leads to my second point.
It’s about healing
The second ‘me factor’ of these letters – even if you don’t share them and just keep them for yourself – is healing. Writing down your experiences is the best way to start healing old wounds; I really don’t believe any emotions numbed down and trapped inside are ever released.
Eckhart Tolle in The Power of Now explained that deep down below all the emotions we ignore or suppress, lies a deep peace and joy that is at the core of every person.
“You need to become fully conscious of your emotions and be able to feel them before you can feel that which lies beyond them.”
I’m no guru, but I’ve found that to be true.
Letters to My Ex is an anthology written by women, for women. We are halfway to our target number of contributors but are calling for more! You can view the submission guidelines here.