Living 1,500 miles away, I couldn't very well pop over to their house and bake them lasagna. I did the only thing I could think of: I wrote letters. The old-fashioned type in an envelope, with a stamp, sent via the trusty U.S. Postal Service. I thought it might give her something to read while flattened. Plus, since letters are a rarity these days, I thought it might be a nice surprise.
As I wrote to her, I found that I was benefiting from the process as a writer. How? Let me count the ways:
- I was writing to only one reader: I've heard it said when you write for everyone, you write for no one. No matter how many readers we may have, we connect to each as individuals. Having only one reader in mind to please was good practice.
- I was writing from my heart: I was writing things that meant something to me. I was delving into emotion. I was trying to make her laugh. I wanted my writing to be a gift to her. As writers, we need to bring that personal emotion into our work and that desire to express something that touches someone else's heart.
- I was writing in a natural voice: I was having a conversation, not trying to impress anyone. I was using plain language and not running for a thesaurus every third word. We all know how stories seem to flow so naturally verbally but can become stilted when we put them into text. This was a good exercise in writing in that natural speaking voice.
- Most importantly -- I WAS WRITING: I am notorious for getting so blocked I can't even journal. Writing letters gave me the motivation to put words on the page. (If you're one of those prolific types who drips words from pen every waking moment, I
envy hatecongratulate you.)
I am happy to report that all ended well. Baby Zip arrived in late May, barely a week shy of his full-term due date. Kole (their name for him, I'm still calling him Zip) is healthy and was a hefty nine-plus pounds at birth. Three-year-old Kyden is thrilled beyond measure to be a big brother.
And what did I send for his zeroth birthday? Why books, of course. The first step in turning that kid into a writer is turning him into a reader. Maybe a few years down the road he'll write me a letter.