Slice of Life: Writing Found

I’ve been wrestling with writing. Many days I’ve composed thoughts only to allow something to get in the way of it arriving on a page. Day after day, I fill moments where writing could have been. It may have been with a book or a friend. But as time goes by, so do we. Writing represents who we are, how we remember, and how we are remembered. I felt this intensely when I cleaned out my parents’ home.

With the closing of their home, I pulled their notebooks and letters, their lived lives into mine.  Their writing holds who they were; of the times they lived in and through. And as lived, they wrote.

Boxes and notebooks. Writing done with manual typewriters. Letters penned by my grandparents who learned English as their second language. Letters sent home from war fronts, written on fragile airmail paper. Boxes of letters saved just as valuable as the yellowing wedding dresses and baby clothes. Words mattered.

Now their writing sits in boxes alongside the notebooks, poems, letters, and other musings of my children; the detritus of who they were at five, six, seven, eight, nine, and ten. And I sit in between. Examing how privileged my people were and are to be literate.

How lucky I am to have the opportunity to write and to be able to teach writing. What a crucial way to be human.

 

14 thoughts on “Slice of Life: Writing Found

  1. This is a post for National Day On Writing, as it is SO much about why we write! I love how you blend the generations of writers and the reflections on literacy’s importance. And, I always admire the voice within your writing. You combine and break up and fragmentize (not really a word, but it’s working for me) so effectively. Love your final sentence! “What a crucial way to be human.” Yes.

  2. I love the image of you sitting among the boxes of writing from your family. Isn’t this the gift that we are working so hard to give our children and our students? I often wonder if it will feel the same way when people open computers and read compared with your experience of reading through all that beautiful paper. Will it feel as warm and beautiful and powerful? I’m just not sure.

    • I had those same wonderings. A daughter of a friend of mine printed her mother’s blog posts and had it bound as a birthday gift. A gift to consider giving yourself and maybe your family.

  3. It must have been powerful and overwhelming to go through the writing from your parent’s house. Wow! I often wonder who might find my notebooks when I’m gone. I’m glad it brought you back here.

  4. You captured so well the feelings I had when I found my parents’ writing. My mother made the hard decision to throw away her many notebooks of morning pages. They served their purpose, she told me. Will I miss having them? What will I do with all of my notebooks? This literate life is a privilege.

  5. The images captured in our writing lives . . . just as powerful as snapshots of the places we have been. Literal glimpses into times and locations past.

    I love that you are currently holding onto: “Now their writing sits in boxes alongside the notebooks, poems, letters, and other musings of my children; the detritus of who they were at five, six, seven, eight, nine, and ten. And I sit in between. Examining how privileged my people were and are to be literate.”

  6. “What a crucial way to be human.”

    So true. It seems you’ve entered a new place in your writing.life, too. So glad to read you here again. I love that you’ve writing from your kids and now from your parents. Surrounded by the words of such beautiful humans.

  7. “Their writing holds who they were; of the times they lived in and through. And as lived, they wrote.” Last Saturday at the Oregon Council of Teachers of English Fall Conference, Kim Stafford said that part of the reason he writes is to, “Create something to talk back to all that darkness.” He added that when he confronts something difficult he knows that, “Tomorrow morning at 5 a.m., I’ll be saying more about that.” That we can further that idea? As you say, “How lucky I am to have the opportunity to write and to be able to teach writing.”
    Thanks for this!

  8. The notebooks and other writing hold parts of our identity that might not be necessarily known to others. I believe you will find some common threads running though the writing from different generations.

  9. You and I must have have had the same nudge to write today – though mine is not nearly as beautiful. What a gift you have. “What a crucial way to be human.” Pure beauty!

  10. Love this line: “Writing represents who we are, how we remember, and how we are remembered.” And the narrative you weave around the idea is gorgeous. Thank you for this beautiful piece 🙂

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