Saturday, March 17, 2007

Where Writing for Me Began

Since I was a teen, I wanted to write. I started with journals. And then when email came along, I tried a hand at crafting letters. My typing is much more legible than my writing (let me tell you!).

When I finished graduate school (the first one) in Florida, I moved to Vancouver, BC, to apprentice at a theatre.

Now I came from a family where (how shall I say this?) the 'art of listening' did not come as a natural gift. And I wanted my family, particularly my nearly deaf grandfather and my mother, to understand my thoughts and directions and get a better idea of the inner-workings of my own life and mind.

Moving to the other side of the country was a good opportunity to invite them into my world. So I took the time and the chance to write creative non-fiction of my week. It was weekly memoir, weaving daily stories together into something they all shared in common... little pictures that formed larger meanings.

Call me narcissitic, I don't know. My mother loved them, printing out every one and putting them in a folder. I found that folder after she died.

My grandfather enjoyed them as well, though I don't remember him telling me. At his memorial service, his secretary shared that he printed them out and read them at his desk at the office.

My mother phoned me one day saying, "Grandpa feels uncomfortable with some of your letters," she said. "He thinks they are too personal to share openly." I took that with a grin, pushing outward the culture of 'uncomfortable feelings' that I had grown up with. I admired my grandfather immensely and delighted that he loved the little tomes I put together. Maybe, in some ways, they helped him push outward too.

Those writings were called "The Tales!" I wrote them for several years. And people I didn't know would email me asking to be put on "The Tales!" list. I guess they were forwarded a lot, like those spam letters people enjoy sending to keep brimstone or bad luck or a rabid tooth-fairy all at a safe distance.

Not only did I write "The Tales!" to let my grandfather and mother into my little world, but I did it to hone my writing skills... by using material I knew intimately: my own life.