Filed under: Writing experiments | Tags: creative process, experience, family, history, Story-A-Day Challenge, storytelling, writing
I’ve recorded a lot of thoughts and opinions over the years. It’s an occupational hazard when you are in my line of work.
The hardest thing I’ve ever done is try to write this letter.
Words have always come easily. Of course, I was busy recording life as it happened. It’s not so hard to write down what you see and hear. Just the facts. Most of the time anyway. Okay, yes, I did embellish on occasion. Just for fun. Just to make it more interesting for the reader. I’m sure James Thurber was recording a historical event in “The Night the Bed Fell on Father” and that every word was true in the best sense. There’s been such a flap lately over storytellers and whether they should be held to the same standards as reporters. Why should they? Storytellers serve a different purpose than reporters. Historians are more like storytellers than reporters. And as Machiavelli says, “History is written by the victors.” Doesn’t bode well for Truth, does it? I don’t want storytellers to give me the Truth. I want a tale that’s on the edge of belief. I want to be transported. I want my imagination stretched. I want my boundaries tested. I want to see what might be instead of only what is.
This letter has to contain the Truth. It has to convey the information without making it more than it is. If I make too much of it, she’ll panic, and I don’t want that. If I say too little she will also panic. So I’m struggling to find exactly the words that will make it okay for her. So she won’t be alarmed. She will know it’s all right and that we will go on. She’s busy you know. She has the kids and her husband and her job. For all I know she’s not even home now. Her job requires a lot of travel. She may not even get the mail for a week. And she lives so far away. We’ve kept in touch. She calls. She emails. I write letters. I hope she shares them with her kids. I think it’s a lot easier to hand a piece of paper to someone. Although the newer technology allows sharing with lots of people all at once. It’s not the same. If you hand someone a piece of paper they may feel more obliged to read it. I mean really read it. Not just skim over it like part of the din of ever-present media. It’s easy to skip over a post – blog, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest. If someone pauses and presses the “Like” button you’ve made an impact. If they stop and comment you’ve really made a dent. If there is nothing, it’s a whisper drowned in the roar of the ocean.
A letter makes people stop. It holds their attention. It doesn’t have to compete in the same way as other media. That’s why I have to be careful to make sure this letter is just like all the other missives I’ve sent to her. I suppose I could just post it and hope it gets lost in the cacophonous sea of updates, but then one of her friends will be sure to see it. And they’ll tell her. And we’ll be back where we started. No, I have to put it in a letter, in the same manner I usually do. At least this way she’ll have the letter that tells her all about the cancer and the treatment. And even though I’ll be gone, she’ll be okay. And she’ll know I love her.
With thanks to The Speculative Fiction Muse http://www.katfeete.net/writing/specfic.php
Story-A-Day Challenge is courtesy of Forward Motion for Writers http://www.fmwriters.com/
And to my writing partners, Mary C Sutton and D Anthony Brown danthonybrown.me for the support and the laughs.
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