Most writers, I think, I might be able to identify the origin of their compulsion to write. Writers are born with it. It’s part of our personality. Birds chirp, dogs bark, writers write. It’s nature. I’ve always had this with me since I could remember. As a young child, I remember being drawn to paper, pencils and pens. I collected notebooks for no reason at all. Even today, if I go to a Walmart or Target, I always find myself looking at journals and pens.
In high school, I wrote letters. And, it goes without saying, boys don’t write letters to other boys. When I met my wife during our freshman year, I wrote many letters to her. I even wrote one telling her that we would get married one day. We lost touch after high school and did not meet again until many years later. When we did get married, she brought out all those old love letters and displayed them.
I have boxes and boxes filled with folders and folders of writing. Poetry. Memoirs. Journals. Stories, some finished others not. Writers hoard their work. Why? I have ideas but I don’t want to go into that now. Maybe another post. But nobody writes letters anymore. Older people probably. Young adults, teens, no way. A former student of mine is in prison in Arizona. We’ve corresponded through letters. It’s his turn. It’s been a while. I may have to write to him, see how he’s doing.
I do believe writers write primarily to satisfy the need in themselves to communicate. But I’ve realized a greater purpose for my writing. Writers need an audience, want an audience. I have an audience of four, my children. I don’t know exactly when the tradition started but it has and I’m glad for it. Each night, as I put my children to bed, they ask me to write them a letter. Most of the time, it is me reminding them that I will miss them that day; that I love them and they should listen to their mother as she teaches them. I draw pictures depicting our property, the children are in the back, running after chickens, balloons float in the air everywhere. Sometimes I’ll add a Bible verse for them to memorize. Sometimes I write a little poem and sometimes I forget to leave a letter. They don’t like that very much. I feel bad about it but sometimes I just want to get out of the house and get to school.
I’m forcing myself to sit and write the letters. I’ve started tradition. I’m the catalyst of these memories for my kids. I wonder if my son will write letters to his children in the future before he leaves for work. I wonder if my girls will draw pictures and poems the way I do for them. To them, these letters mean the world to them. I might never be on any best-selling list, but my children will remember their father thinking about them before he left for work everyday, or almost everyday. That, means the world to me.