On Slow Processing

“Write!” I say to a friend.

This is in one of our regular correspondence and as we keep each other updated not only of writing but of life. Our correspondence that started as critique partners has become something of a ritual, over the years. It’s an exchange and form that affords me time to sit down, be silent and really listen to her thoughts poured onto the page.

My friend and I live in different countries that have been impacted differently by the COVID-19 pandemic. So, when she says to me, “I cannot tell you how messed up all of this has made me. I can’t seem to write — not even the blog.”

I respond, “Words will come to you. Perhaps in a bundle of mess. Write them down in your journal as clumsy as they come.”

I take time to process things: ideas, conversations and experiences (even this pandemic), sometimes to my own detriment…

After a month since that correspondence I now realize I could have told her that even though she might feel as if she isn’t writing, for me her letters are a calming source of inspiration. They make me contemplate my own challenges and privileges.

“Write back, soon!”

Khaya Ronkainen
Khaya Ronkainen is a writer, poet and creative professional. Her blog focuses on all things poetry and creative nonfiction.


  1. It’s such a gift to have an encouraging friend, Khaya, and it’s encouraging to see a friendship blossom from ‘correspondence that started as critique partners’ in different countries and allows you to be silent and listen to another person’s thoughts poured onto the page.

  2. Tell your friend your should have…they are refreshing and ever-freeing. Continue to treasure your growth together.

  3. Thank you, Kim. I’ve been lucky to have met and made (and continue to) wonderful friends through blogging from around the world. I’ve always felt that writers need other writers as friends, more especially in these uncertain times to encourage and support one another.

  4. Lovely to see you here Michelle. 🙂 Isn’t just wonderful to have creative friends we can growth together with in art and in life! Thank you for reading and the encouraging comment. Much appreciated!

  5. I know it has been a minute. Thank you.
    I always enjoy your blog. Write! I’m on it. You encourage me. 🥰 Keep well. 💞

  6. If what you write above is real stuff (and I have no reason to doubt it), then I applaud you for engaging in correspondence by postal mail. There’s something reassuring about holding a letter in one’s hands, and being able to feast on the message that’s been written by the hand of a friend. Even if the message is sometimes garbled and uncertain, the humanity shines through!

  7. That’s so cool that you have an old-school pen-pal/ writing buddy. I’ve written a couple of extra letters in quarantine too. LOL, I took the time to handmake a birthday card using washi tape, the way I’ve seen some people do it on Instagram videos. While a felt a little silly with my very amateurish attempt, it felt nice to take that extra step so that the recipient knew I was thinking of them. I’m ready to write more! Though washi art cards will take more time. 😀

  8. She sounds like a wonderful friend, and I am sure she is glad to have you, too! I know I enjoy stopping by here to reads your words. They leave me with a sense of peace, and are inspiring.

  9. She is so lucky to have a sincere and encouraging friend like you, Khaya 😀 It warms my heart to witness a friendship that blooms from; “correspondence that started as critique partners.” 💝

  10. This is a good reminder that along with the encouragement, appreciation is always good. Thankfulness and hope are good partners.

  11. Thank you so much for reading, I appreciate your lovely comment. I greatly enjoy writing letters, sending and receiving them by snail mail. Sadly nowadays, I restrict the act only to postcards; holiday greetings, etc. The correspondence I’m referring to in this piece is still written with intention, that is, deliberate and unhurried, and hugely inspiring compared to other emails I receive on a daily basis. That said, it is still delivered in a form of an email; one can’t deny the convenience of doing so. It’d be more like a newsletter, only I’m the only recipient. 🙂

    There’s so much to be said though about the lost art of letter writing…

  12. A real treasure to have someone to write with and share your challenges and inner thoughts Paper is patient and goes deeper than a chat. Hope you enjoy it for years to come and indeed words will come for her and I love how you say “in a bundle of mess”

  13. Wow a friend who writes letters, what a treasure
    Be safe


  14. That was an important transition. I have a friend in another country. I can share with her uninhibited my deepest darkest thoughts and socially unacceptable righteous views of myself. Lately I noticed she changed how she responds to my writings. In a condescending tone. To make her aware. The next time she shared her vulnerable thoughts, I responded by writing

    “If I were me, I would say…I understand your stance.
    If I were you, I would say, well done. You are beginning to master life. ”

    She no longer uses the well done in her writings.

  15. YAY to writing more! Handmade cards are another meaningful way to make someone else’s day. There’s definitely something rewarding for both the giver and receiver. 🙂

  16. Lavinia you just made my day with your lovely comment. It’s pleasing to hear that my words do offer a sense of peace. Thank you always for reading. And oh, my she is a wonderful friend, indeed. 🙂

  17. Your thoughts resonated with me. Many years ago a friend in Australia and I (in Indiana) became pen pals, and our correspondence has endured the years. We now say each is the best friend we’ve never met! Such contact is especially valuable in these days of sheltering at home.

  18. Dearest Sanaa, thank you so much. Your comment is heartwarming, too. And I’m lucky to have made incredible supportive friendships through my writing endeavours here on the blogs and beyond. <3

  19. Sounds a good friend.

    I always enjoy visiting blogs and seeing how everyone is doing, especially now as we all deal with Covid 19.

    Stay safe and well.

    All the best Jan

  20. It is a real treasure, Marja. Yes about the words, they don’t always come neatly packed. We sometimes have to wade through the mess.😊

  21. Friendship is a gift I’m always grateful to have. And I’m super pleased to hear you liked the way I narrated. 🙏🏽

  22. I wouldn’t know what I would do if I didn’t have friends with whom to exchange words. Some days, writing something new and inspired *cough* is tough. But like you say here, there are many ways to write. And they are all rather helpful, I think.

  23. It is a beautiful thing to have a friend you can share so much with, especially the socially unacceptable views😊 It’s a great pity that you feel as if your friend has changed. Remember friendships go through phases, and as individuals we have our own struggles. Be gentle with yourself, as well as your friend!❤️

  24. That’s so heartwarming, Bev to have had a long-distant friendship that endured so many years. And l absolutely agree in these sheltering days such contacts are valuable. Hope you’re keeping well and safe.

  25. I agree Khaya, it’s special.

    I think there’s a danger in spending time discussing philosophy like my friend and I did, in that, one could start to think too highly of oneself when one knows they’ve made the time to think the world through; which many people dont have the time to do. One can start to view the mistakes people as something one is too superior to do which I suspect is the reason my friend started using congratulatory words to respond to me. So in our discussions advancing, she changed. Her responses changed to reflect this too. We once acknowledged we don’t have the answers. Her saying well done was an indication she thought I had the right view. But who decides what is right.. you see?

    Words fascinate me. I’m not familiar with the expression be “gentle with yourself and your friend”. Does it mean I was not gentle with myself and her when I responded the way I did?

  26. What a precious exchange you have with your friend. To inspire and grow with / because of one another is a great gift that is, no doubt, a treasure to you both. I am also reminded once again, how we all have our impact on the world around us, and rarely get to know just how important something we said or did might have been to someone else.

  27. I know all about writing something new being tough some days. That’s why we need other writer friends to help with inspiration. And I’m lucky, for I know places…*coughing with you* to go for inspiration. 😀 Even when I don’t participate or share frequently, I get my fix from the weekly prompts. So, thanks to you too and our poetry community!

  28. It’s so true, we rarely get to know just how important something we said or did might have been to someone else. I think it’s something we could try and do more; let those whose words, kindness, friendship, etc., have impacted us know just how much. Thank you for this insightful comment, H.

  29. There you are! I have not been getting notifications…AGAIN… So now I know to seek you out instead! (Worth it, by the way….always worth it! 🙂 )

  30. It is special, indeed. I’m forever grateful for the friends (including you) who help brighten my days. Big Hugs!💝

  31. I understand about not being able to write. and you gave her good advice, Khaya. I am reading my first book since the quarantine, which tells me that I have somewhat settled into lockdown routine. I seem to only write very short pieces these days, though. But there are joys to be found in this time, and I am taking pleasure in them, and counting my blessings. Stay well!

  32. I’m glad you think the advice was good, Cynthia. I must admit though that I struggle myself with this writing, nowadays. Some days I’m diligent with journal jottings and drafts, and on some I just can’t see the point. But you are so right, we should count our blessings because there are joys to be found too, in this time. All the best with your writing, and short pieces seem sensible in pacing oneself and adjusting to the lockdown routine. Keep writing, and enjoy your read! 🙂

  33. Yes… write… or be creative! Just do it… for release! Or… bake bread… or dig in the garden… or take photos… or, maybe write? 😁 This whole mess inspired at least one story from me… entered into this year’s BSSA!! Now, all I need to do is trust! 😉
    Did I mention write? Just write!

  34. Love your energy here, Vossie. 😀 All these things you mention make for a good release. We shall and should continue to write. Thanks for the encouragement, and all the best on BSSA entry. Keep writing!

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