It's IWSG Day. The goal of this blog hop is to share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds. The brainchild of Alex Cavanaugh, our brilliant ninja leader. To read posts from other members, click here.
A relative moved out of her home after 45 years and we spent this winter cleaning it out, which caused us to reevaluate. After spending weekends throwing out old bills, countless notebooks filed with clipped recipes and every birthday card ever received, my husband and I vowed we’d never leave a task so daunting to our daughter.
To that end we’ve been purging our own house, one of us more successfully than the other. We grew up pre-social media and both had plastic bins holding years of correspondence stored in the basement. Hauling them out, my husband upturned his container into the laundry basket we were using for trash. “I can’t read them,” he said, “or, I’ll never get rid of them.”
I don’t have his fortitude. Every night last week, I sat in front of my own box, opening and reading enough correspondence to transport myself back to a world I’d forgotten, before tossing each letter into a trash bag.
In the end though, I scored pay dirt. I knew for sure I’d have to save the letters from my lovely lost poet friend who died in a car accident just before our senior year in college. And, while I couldn’t bring myself to read them all, I unfolded a lined sheet of paper. Apparently, we were bored in class one day and writing notes back and forth. Sometime before that, I’d dashed off a couple of poems and submitted them to the college literary magazine she edited, knowing they weren’t my best work. I confessed in the note that I knew they weren’t good, and here’s what she wrote in response:
You must give writing the time it deserves or it will not reflect your real talent. You have the rest of your life you know – and you will always have that talent – the only thing with talent is though, you can’t just carry it around and take it out in a minute. It comes through much effort…If you don’t think your writing is good, don’t settle for things you don’t like…
The irony is, she didn't have the rest of her life. She was twenty-one when she wrote that, wise beyond her age, and gone three months later. I'm closing in on forty years without her now, but it's made me so happy to recognize she's alive again, through the inspiring reminder those long-ago words just delivered to me.