Place and you
Writing prompts on identity found in place
Hello and welcome! This is the 80th issue of Place! If you’ve been following along with our last couple of emails, you’ll know that this month, we’ve been trying out something a bit different. Over the past year and a half of running this newsletter, we’ve noticed how strongly the concept of ‘place’ resonates with people – not just with our readers, but with our writers as well. Working with our contributors and editing their work with them has shown us that place also cuts deep. Talking, or rather writing, about a place, brings people into raw spaces, to parts of themselves they may not have visited before – at least from that angle. Place incites emotion, sensuality, memory, and identity. All of the intangibles that make us who we are.
This month we’re inviting you into the process that we take with our contributors in the form of a month-long reflection on place. Each week in November we’ll offer you writing tips as well as prompts to get you thinking about the spaces you inhabit in the world. Keep in touch with your progress — perhaps it will even turn into something you may want to write for us.
Have something you’d like to write about for Place? Or know someone who might? Check out our pitch guide. We really want to hear your stories, and the great news is, we can now pay our contributors thanks to our generous subscribers who have supported us through our membership program. Even if you’re unsure if your idea fully fits Place, please do drop us a line – we’d love to chat.
At Place, we believe that the experiences, sensations and conversations we have as we move about the world stay with us, stacking up as the years go by, forming who we are and the way we view the world. If you’re the social type, follow us on Twitter (@place_letter) where you can share your favourite pieces and Instagram (@placenewsletter) for a visual feast. Yours, The Place editorial team.
The overlaps between place and identity are potent regions of our soul. Almost all of us can think of a Place that feels like home, or a place that has shaped us to become who we are. But rarely do we give ourselves the space to wonder why these connections exist, or how they came to be. Places, like the human experience, are dynamic. As we find out more about who we are, who we were, and who we want to be, so too do the places around us change. Writing about the relationship between our own identities and place can crystallize pivotal moments in our lives, or act as a litmus test – allowing us to gauge the differences between what aspects of our lives have been transformed, or at least, our perceived notions.
This week’s writings are chance to see how who you are is reflected in the physical world around us. Look up, and see yourself.
Sometimes, when writing about ourselves and our relationship to different places, things come up that we may not want to face, or admit to. Remember that your writing and reflection process is yours alone. It is a private space, meant to be messy and not necessarily constructive. You don’t have to have any answers, and there is no ‘right’ way to reflect. Try not to mince your words as you write. Be honest with yourself and let what appears on the page sit. Later, when you revisit your writing, you may notice that some sentiments are exaggerated, while others are minimized. That’s okay. Writing from a personal lens is process. Give yourself time to get to know yourself.
Try rewriting your answers to the below prompts multiple times throughout the week. Start on a clean fresh page, without re-reading what you wrote last. Afterwards, compare your answers and note their differences, and similarities. It’s remarkable how much newness can be found on the page each time we write, even when it feels like we’ve exhausted a subject.
- Think about a place that makes you feel more yourself when you are in it, or that you feel reflects some aspect of your identity. Ask yourself why? Why does this place make me feel this way?
- What does the phrase, ‘a place of change’ mean to you? Does change manifest itself in a physical space? Is it an internal experience, an external experience or both? Is there a place that you feel has changed you, or mirrored a change in your life? Describe it.
- The concept of ‘home’ is a question of identity that comes up often in writing about places. Ask yourself where your ‘home’ is. Is it a place, or a feeling? Does it exist in multiple forms in your life? Describe these versions of home.
- Home and belonging go hand in hand. Write about a place where you feel a sense of belonging. What is it about this place that makes you feel this way?
A literary journey to Nova Scotia,
and the magical cats of Japan.
Thank you for subscribing to Place. If these last few weeks of writing prompts have brought up anything interesting for you, feel free to pitch your reflections to us at email@example.com.