Today my brother Reid would have turned sixty. A few weeks ago I found a letter I had written to him, but never sent. It was a rant about stuff that I was angry with him about eleven long years ago. I thought, “Hmm … maybe I can use this in my memoir.”
As a first step I rewrote it to make it clearer and more understandable. Maybe I could include it as it was. But reading it to Sharon, who is one of my best “reader/listeners,” we found it didn’t work. And it didn’t work the second time I rewrote it either.
After returning from Florida and getting caught up on the “to dos” that pile up when I’m away, I pulled it out again. Rereading it for the hundredth time I started fiddling with it in a new writing program (Scrivener) I was trying out. It suddenly disappeared. I tried everything I could think of to find it. I checked the trash. I checked my documents to see if I had tucked away another copy for just such an occasion, but never found it.
I spent five minutes muttering nasty words and feeling victimized by my *&?##!% computer and then it slowly began dawning on me that it was okay … it wasn’t working anyway… what’s the big deal?
I opened up a new file and began thinking about the letter and what I had been trying to say. My fingers started moving across the keyboard and the words began to flow. I began listening to my frustrated self of eleven years ago. She expressed what was happening in her life that made her feel so bad and the things she was afraid of. It started a whole stream of thought that had been missing when I’d written that letter trying to blame Reid for all that was wrong with the world. Sure, he’d played a role in it, but he wasn’t the devil-incarnate I’d been making him out to be.
I’m glad I never sent that letter to him. Right now I can see him sitting on the edge of a cloud, laughing at me. Oh well, better late than never.
The story I was writing that started out as a vicious letter, is now unfolding in a much more truthful way. Things that I was having difficulty connecting are suddenly falling into place.
That doesn’t mean that I won’t stop accidentally deleting things or making other foolish mistakes. What it does mean is that if I do, it isn’t the end of the world. Sometimes the Muse has to step in when I’m being stubborn and not listening to her. It is my story I’m involved in telling, but I’m not really the one doing the writing. I’m just taking dictation and occasionally trying to have my way with it.
Happy Birthday, Bro’!