By Scarlett Vargas
Editor’s Note: RamPage staffer Scarlett Vargas reviewed Wendy Wolff’s book “The Letter Writing Project” for our January issue. This month she contributes an interview with Wolff to investigate the creative process that led Wolff to cope with her sister’s tragic death by writing a series of non-fictional letters.
Q: Did anyone ever make negative comments about your book publicizing your sister’s tragic death?
A: No. I have not had any negative comments about writing of my sister’s tragic passing. In fact, I have heard from many people that it has helped them to cope with their own losses.
Q: How hard was it to live through all those memories again when writing your book?
A: I am a very spiritual person—so at first it was tough, remembering all of the sad moments. I did a lot of crying. But, I know that my sister’s spirit lives on and is alive and well with God.
Q: Being a mother and wife, did you sister’s tragedy cause damage that prevented you from doing daily tasks? And if so, how?
A: My boys were so wonderful during the days of grieving. My husband really stepped up to the plate and helped to manage the house. I stayed with my own mother and my sister’s kids for a week until traveling back home. I simply did the very basic stuff to keep everyone fed, clean and loved. Other than that, I cried and sat still in the silence until I felt like I could re-enter the world.
Q: Did all those letters you wrote give you inner peace, even if you didn’t get to send them?
A: Yes! They sure did. Letter writing is the best way to understand how you feel about a situation. I just wrote a letter yesterday that was filled with remorse. I’m thinking I will mail it this week, feeling scared and brave, both at the same time.
Q: Did this project interfere with your personal life somehow or was it always part of it?
A: This project added flavor to my personal life, although it gave me much more to do. I have to find the extra hours in the day to respond to fans, and connect with the letter writers. I love this aspect, but it is all about time management. Some days I simply don’t have any more hours left—so I prioritize it for tomorrow. My family might tell you that they miss me when I travel but they are also very happy for we are changing the world!
Q: When did you notice you find pleasure helping others reach their goals?
A: I have always loved helping people. About 1994, I started helping other adults figure out what they want to do and how to craft a plan to get there. Now I’m all about the teens. We have got to let you young people know and understand that you can have the life you want. Despite any hardships, you can do it. It’s why you are here. Everyone is here in this lifetime to be fabulous!
Q: What makes writing specifically to someone better than just writing in a diary for example?
A: Writing in a diary is writing to one’s self. Crafting a letter involves the essence of another person. I think both exercises are wonderful, but letter writing doubles the benefit. Not only are you having the healing related to writing, but you are celebrating the relationship. I always say that when you write a letter—this is the first gift that you are giving to yourself. When the person receives your loving words, that’s the second gift. Everyone wins.
Q: It’s most certainly hard to talk about your sister after what happened. Did you ever wonder about how it would have felt to lose her before this tragedy?
A: Never. Not once. I thought she would be there forever. Until old age took us.
Q: What other writers do you admire?
A: I love Marianne Williamson, Anne Lamott, and Paulo Coehlo.
Q: Did you ever hold a workshop or event to teach others about the importance of writing? Why or why not?
A: Yes. I do workshops all of the time. It’s such a wonderful experience. I’m hoping to come to MCSM to do one.