Since I’ve been in college, my Dad has written me a letter every week. Yep, like snail-mail, hand-written, old-fashioned letters. My hometown is only about a two and a half hour drive from WKU, but I enjoy getting mail and he enjoys writing letters, so even if I go home most weekends, these letters are a highlight of my week. Normally, they are just updates about what is going on at the house, even though I usually get these updates through call or text before these letters arrive.
Despite this, Dad occasionally includes some thought-provoking tidbits within his day-to-day updates. This was especially so in the most recent letter I received.
Backing up about eight years. I was 12 or 13 years old. My dad was unemployed and had been for quite a while, so during his job search, he decided to write a book. A novel, actually, geared toward middle-school aged kids. (See my past blog post, “How Do I Novel?” for more on this book.) It was during this time as well that my passion for writing was growing and growing, partially because of my expanded opportunities for reading and learning about writing, but also because of my Dad and his book.
Whenever I think about publishing my novel, I think about October Skies and all the hard work Dad poured into it. This is just scratching the surface, though, in regards to his influence on my writing.
Going back to a letter from a few weeks ago: As I read through all the updates on the flip-house and both my dad and brother being sick and my brother’s new “first middle-school crush,” and all of that mundane stuff, I come upon the last two pages or so and read something I was not entirely expecting.
“I was thinking about your writing today and just kind of wandered down this path of — if I could give you any advice, what would it be. I don’t know why this jumped into my head, but it did. So my advice to you is to write like the last thing you wrote will be read to hundreds of people attending your funeral. Think about it. This is the final, lasting memory many people will have of you…”
It is his advice, like this, as well as his continuous encouragement, that keeps me writing. Not only is it very potent and honest advice, but I know it is genuine, and that in itself is beyond encouraging.
-Dad, love you to Heaven and Back