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Friday, August 31, 2012

Why I Write (First prompt in my Nonfiction Class)

            Thanksgiving 2012 will mark six years since Ron Shumway passed away. In life he was a harsh, outspoken man; impossible to please and constantly finding the negative in every situation. He was loud, abrasive, and hurtful in his words and tone. For a period of  years in my adult life I avoided all contact with my dad because his pessimism took me to a dark place I didn't like.
            In the early 1990s I set up an email account and began a regular correspondence with my mother. One day I received an email message from dad. He had been reading my emails to mom and he responded simply, "You are a good writer." Shortly afterwards and for a number of years,  he sent me brochures, magazine clippings, and newspaper notifications requesting writing samples for possible publication, but I was in the midst of raising kids, running the PTA, and still holding a grudge so I didn't respond to his suggestions. I also doubted the validity of the offers and my capacity to contribute anything of value. I did; however, reopen communication with my dad.
            Six years ago when he was struggling with and dying from cancer, "You are a good writer" became lodged in my head and it has been there ever since. It was truly the first and only compliment I ever remember receiving from my father. Suddenly it became my mission to authenticate his assessment of my skill. Since then, I've taken every opportunity to write. I started a blog, I wrote grant applications for schools and nonprofit organizations, I struck up a conversation with a newspaper editor and started writing weekly columns and special interest stories, and recently I returned to school working towards a degree in Creative Writing.
            Writing seems to be the one thing I have an affinity for. I can more easily express myself in a written format than by any other mode of communication. When I have composed a lovely sentence, paragraph, or page, it brings me joy which is rarely duplicated by other tasks. I write to remember and record. I write to convey feelings or sentiments or moods. I write because something inside me desires to find its way out.  I write because it is the connection I have with my dad. He recognized writing was something I needed long before I did. His confidence in my ability to string words together on a page established a father/daughter relationship which spanned the last 20 years of his life and granted me the opportunity to love and respect him beyond life.
            Since dad died, each phrase I construct, each sentence I craft is, at least in some part, directed to him. It is a marvelous and miraculous thing to feel his approval. For me, writing not only converses with the living, but also communes with the dead.


wendy said...

Well, your dad was ARE a good writer. Sorry to hear you were not close to your father. Family dynamics can be complicated sometimes eh.

Tina said...

Very nice Georgia! You were honest about your dad and also paid tribute to him.

I feel the same way as you do about writing, but aren't the word wizard you are. I can communicate much better through the written word than the spoken word.

Crazy . . . . I almost signed up for a creative writing class this semester . . . . truly thought about it for about 5 minutes!! LOL!

Way to go!

Celia Turner said...

I loved this post! Georgia, you ARE a fantastic writer!! I also love that you can feel a connection with your dad as you write! That's a wonderful thing! Keep writing! It's definitely a worthwhile talent. :)