Friday Writing Experiment No. 53: Breaking Up Is Never Easy, You Know

Okay, so I was going to stop weekly writing experiments, but in fact I had decided to do them every now and then as the whim takes me and inspiration strikes. And lo! So soon.

The spur and inspiration: my brilliant friend Bhanu Kapil, and her brilliant blog, which this week included a post of her break-up letter to Jacques Derrida.

Dear Derrida: I waited for you behind the pillar at the Rijksmuseum in 1988.  Do you recall? We drank cocoa in the cafe. You showed me how to breathe.  I was wearing a lambs wool jumper. You were wearing a mauve silk shirt unbuttoned to your mid chest. Though it was cold. It was winter. I break up with how much I longed for you at that time of my life. I break up with the desire to be seen. Hey. Are you reading this?  Death: a letterbox. You are so beautiful. I sank to my knees. I am sorry I did not understand your poetry at the time and judged it so harshly. Goodbye for now. Goodbye forever. Love: you know who I am.

I reckon that break-up letters are great for writing. You tap into something profound. You latch on to details, and then latch the writing on to those details. Your voice is powerful and direct in its address. Your writing is laden with purpose. Go for it!

For this week’s writing experiment: Write a break-up letter. True, fictional, personal, political (Scotland didn’t write one after all yesterday).

(The writing of this post is not responsible for any ensuing divorces. It is amazing what can surface in writing experiments.)

(And additional thanks to Ella Longpre, who once gave me a brass heart, which afterwards I realised made me the Tin Man. If I only had a heart … And he had one all along.)

(PS I should stop judging poetry I don’t understand so harshly too.)



  1. Alice Hiller

    One of my first real ins to my narrator, Dee, was when I wrote her break up letter to the boss she’d been having an affair with, after creeping into his garden on Xmas day to spy on him with his wife. It brought the three of them right into focus…

    • Andrew

      Break-up letter + love triangle = sparks will fly!

      Aren’t there whole theories about adultery being at the heart of so much literature? Didn’t Tony Tanner have a book on this? Hmm, another Friday Writing Experiment beckons …

    • Andrew

      Why thanks, Emma! For various reasons, doing them at a time that I had other types of work on the go made of them a little bit of a chore, and chores are not something I believe in (clearly: you should see the kitchen floor). Though of course we have to … Anyway, I’ve just decided I can do something like retweet old experiments on Twitter @andrewwille, if I don’t have a fresh one – though I already have two more lined up …

      Otherwise though I want to put more effort into posting, e.g., reviews of resources as well as craft essays, and perhaps making things a bit more interactive in the Comments sections?

    • Andrew

      As I say, the book doctor is not responsible for any resisting actions … It is a fun exercise tho. I am thinking you could make up a whole book of breakup letters.

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