Dear Writing

As a participant in the annual Slice of Life Story Challenge with Two Writing Teachers, I will be posting each day for the month of March.

What better way to start than by expressing my love for writing? Or, to be exact, by expressing my love TO writing for the profound impact it’s had on my life.

Inspired in part by Kobe Bryant’s retirement love letter, “Dear Basketball.”

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Dear Writing,

It occurs to me that I’ve never told you how much you mean to me.

It is time, for you mean more now than ever before.

I remember when you first materialized. I was, what, about six years old? I wonder now whether I discovered you or you discovered me, sitting there at the coffee table in the living room, wide-ruled paper in front of me and a fat pencil in my hand. All I know is that it began with story. A pull, a beckoning, a desire to get what was swirling inside me onto pages. By some great alchemy, my blocky letters, erratic spelling, rudimentary sentences ceased to be merely themselves; combined, they became something distinctly Other.

And there you were. Almost a living, breathing presence.

I didn’t know then that you’d come to stay. That as I grew, you would grow with me. That you would, in fact, grow me, always pulling me to more. To think more, explore more, discover more, strive more, play more. To be more.

Do you remember the diary Grandma gave me for Christmas when I was ten or eleven? Trimmed in pink, little girl on the front, with a brass lock and tiny key. Do you remember this entry: “I wrote a story that I hope will be published”? Whatever happened to that diary—? To that story? They’re lost in time. No matter. I can see that page in my mind to this day; is it you that keeps this memory alive?

People began to notice our relationship early on, didn’t they. Teachers who said it was a good thing, who gave tips on how we could be stronger. Friends and family who told me to stick with you: Please keep writing. I owe them all for how they shaped you and me.

Where would I have been without you in my teenage years? In the early days of my marriage? Those were the poetry years, the journal years, when you let me glimpse the beautiful inside the uncertain, when you compelled me to pour out my heart. You were bigger than my anguish, my anger, my fear. You channeled it all, absorbed it all. Ever how circuitous the path, how violent the storm, how steep the mountain, how dark the night, how deep the pain, you were there, leading me to safety, to calm. Even now, I reach for you and you are there. Like the ocean, you bring forth unexpected treasures. And healing. When my emotions and energy are spent, washed clean away, you reveal over and over one thing that always remains: Hope.

For there’s always more to the story, to the ones that I create, to the ones that I live. I think that’s one of the most important lessons you’ve taught me: This chapter of life is ending, but a new one is about to begin. Embrace it. It’s one of your most extraordinary powers. As amazing as your ability to mine my memory. With you I am any age I ever was. I sit on my grandfather’s lap once more; he walks with me, holds my hand. I hear his voice. I am in Grandma’s kitchen while steam fogs the windows, in her arms as she rocks me and sings: Jesus loves me, this I know . . . I see my father’s blue eyes, hear my mother’s laughter and the whir of her sewing machine late into the night. With you my children are still little, my husband is young, black-haired, healthy, whole, and out on the court shooting hoops. And every dog I ever loved comes bounding back to me in absolute joy, all my shortcomings forgiven.

With you, I relive it all. The parts I am proud of and the parts I’m not; the moments I cherish and the ones I survived. With you, they all become a celebration of living, of learning.

I learned long ago that I can harness your power to attack but you showed me that it doesn’t bring me peace; you taught me, instead, to defend. Not as a warrior with drawn sword but as a careful guardian of my own mind and heart. Not by destroying, but by edifying. You enable me to walk in another’s shoes and see through another eyes, to understand that fighting doesn’t move the hearts of others, but story does.

There’s something of the divine about you as well. Marvel of marvels, how a spark in the human brain becomes a thought and a thought becomes substance because of you. Like something from nothing. Ex nihilo. It’s how God created, speaking the world into existence. With words. Without limits. Anything is possible. Believe. To me there’s a sacredness behind the human spirit’s desperate craving to create, to express, to be heard . . .

Which brings me back to being six years old, at the table, pencil in my hand.

And you will outlive me. You are my record, what I leave behind.

Let it be the best of me.

Know that you’re an inextricable part of who I am, one of my life’s greatest gifts. Meant to be given. And so I give you away.

I am grateful beyond words.

I love you.

Fran

A poem written at age sixteen

48 thoughts on “Dear Writing

  1. What a kickoff. I love this. When my emotions and energy are spent, washed clean away, you reveal over and over one thing that always remains: Hope. I am so often left with a feeling of hope after reading your work. Thanks for sharing your words and your journey as a writer in this beautiful piece.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What an amazing love letter you’ve written here. So many lines popped out for me, beautifully crafted and resonant with emotion and truth. I love this: “when you let me glimpse the beautiful inside the uncertain” and this: “With you I am any age I ever was” and, at this point in my life, especially this: “With you my children are still little, my husband is young, black-haired, healthy, whole, and out on the court shooting hoops.” Thank you for sharing this beautiful, personal piece.

    Like

  3. This will be with me all day today —>

    “You were bigger than my anguish, my anger, my fear. You channeled it all, absorbed it all. Ever how circuitous the path, how violent the storm, how steep the mountain, how dark the night, how deep the pain, you were there, leading me to safety, to calm. Even now, I reach for you and you are there. Like the ocean, you bring forth unexpected treasures. And healing. When my emotions and energy are spent, washed clean away, you reveal over and over one thing that always remains: Hope.”

    Wow.
    That is just beautiful … and true …
    Kevin

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Kind of speechless-without words- at how gorgeous this is. The paragraph about writing allows you to be any age really struck me emotionally. I never thought of it quite that way and now I’ll never forget it. I definitely want you to write the book about Ada but I also think there is a memoir or a book about being an educator and this could be the introduction of sorts. Fran, you are a gift to the world and your writing shows that so beautifully. This must be widely shared!

    Liked by 2 people

    • I am without words to reply here, Kathleen – other than to say thank you with all my heart. And about “I am any age I ever was” – I love writing memoir for that reason, and it may well be my favorite. I will keep mulling these ideas you have about a different sort of book of stories for educators. You cannot know how much I appreciate your feedback and support. 🙂

      Like

  5. My fingers are always too quick to delete your posts and all the others I fear might sway the words that wait impatiently to leap from my thoughts onto the page. But in the dark predawn quiet of this morning I read your post. Absorbed it. Felt the love of the stories inspired by my Irish Grandpa and my proper English Grandma. Thank you

    Like

    • Thank you for your honesty .. and my grandfather was of Irish descent. His middle name was St. Patrick. I kid you not. I am delighted that you read the post in the early, dark hours and felt your grandparents calling – and maybe their embrace.

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  6. I always look forward to your posts. They are so beautiful and there have been so many times I can relate to the feelings you describe. This is my third year in the SOL challenge and I’ve been following you since my first year. Thank you for the inspiration!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Great idea, Fran. This line “And you will outlive me.” is one of the key reasons I keep notebooks and journals. A record that I existed, that I lived, that I loved will outlive me. Loved reading YOUR letter!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Adding to the love for this piece-
    What a wonderful passage, your children young, husband black-haired and whole, shooting hoops, and every dog from your past bounding up to you- stunning images. And the part about only story can change peoples’ hearts- yes. Thank you and lets all keep working at it ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  9. This is simply beautiful and so true. Writing is our past and future. It is hope. These lines to me are hope: With you, I relive it all. The parts I am proud of and the parts I’m not; the moments I cherish and the ones I survived. With you, they all become a celebration of living, of learning. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. As you’ve been told many times, “Please keep writing.” You have a very special way of writing where your emotions seep into the words. Your point about reliving certain memories (grandparents and every dog you ever loved) made me tear up. Here’s to another year of sharing and baring our souls.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Always so delighted to read your posts. It’s amazing how connected we can feel to this community. Your words may spark a few more Dear Writing letters this month. My favorite paragraph? “With you I am any age I ever was.” and the sharing of your precious memories.Thanks, Fran, for your letter and your contributions to this community.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. You hit a homerun, right out of the gate for this challenge! (I know, mixing metaphors…) When I was in library school, one of our first assignments was to write about our reading life, earliest memories to present. You’ve done exactly this with your writing life. I now feel the urge to dig through old journals… Thanks for the Slicing inspiration!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Amazing, Fran. Your words, “And you will outlive me. You are my record, what I leave behind. Let it be the best of me.” resonated deeply with me. Thank you for writing.

    Liked by 1 person

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