The following is a spontaneous Haibun (she didn't know this form existed, combining prose and haiku) by a student, following our most recent Read and Write where we shared and discussed Alice Walker's The Temple of My Familiar.
As maddening as it can be to have to write and rewrite our way through old personal stories (if memoir) or characters' life events (if fiction), the fact is, most of writing is re-writing, and most of re-writing is simply understanding. If memoir, simply understanding what we believed without realizing we believed it - or could believe differently - this whole time.
The Key The Old One Gave Me -
I wish there had been a key, but I had to open the door myself by writing about him. By writing about him I learned what I did not know before. The key was in the writing. The key was hidden for nearly two decades after he’d already died. I had created a story and carried it all my life. I can’t remember when I made that story, but it seemed true enough. I believed it. Only when I began to write did the story fall apart. I could no longer hold my story together. The words of my story floated away, lost their meaning. As I wrote about my father, I discovered him again and wished I had created a different story so long ago. As I wrote about my father, I saw a different man than the one I thought I knew, even though I wrote only what I already knew.
I began to forgive him for all the things he had done to make me hate him. No, I began to forgive myself for hating him. That is hard to do. Because I can’t go back and tell him I’m sorry for hating him. I can’t make it right.
The key to my father is in the words I write about him. I have not yet stepped all the way through the door, but I’m getting closer.
What animal sleeps
Beneath fertile years of earth
Waking in my roots