My Dad was a fantastic writer. He focused on short stories and taught me how to create a story beyond the initial idea to something more unique. I still remember a story he wrote about a day at the beach from the perspective of a donkey that gave rides to children. It was a magnificent story and I would have loved to have seen where his talent would have taken him if he had focused on it. We have a few pages of his surviving stories but he was never published as far as I know.
Mum was a very talented storyteller. She had the ‘gift of the gab’ (she loved to talk) and would tell us riveting stories about her early life in Edinburgh, Scotland. I would visualise her as a little girl slowly walking to school in the snow, hoping that the air raid sirens would go off before she got too close to school so she could turn and run back home. She also loved telling us how she and Dad met (in the mess hall in the Royal Air Force, lining up for a cup of tea). She wanted to write a memoir of her life but never knew where to start and it was sadly never written.
A Family of Writers
With such a legacy – and parents who loved to encourage us to read – it is hardly surprising we are a family of writers. I have three sisters and all four of us are currently in the middle of writing projects. (I think that because Mum and Dad never published their stories, it spurs us all on. We want to succeed for them – at least that’s how I feel. I want to write for myself and the joy of writing and to serve God, but I also want to write for Mum and Dad).
Last night I was ‘speaking’ to one of my sisters on messenger. She knew I was feeling a bit down and she was trying to cheer me up. We spoke about the things that were troubling me, and it felt good to share. I love having sisters (and a daughter) who are there for me and will cheer me along even when I’m at my lowest (feeling low doesn’t happen often, I’m usually upbeat and excited about everything in my life, but when I do get down, it’s usually a real downer and I’ll spend a few days feeling discouraged and numb).
The Joy of Brainstorming
Then we got talking about writing – and started brainstorming some crazy ideas for a story. Suddenly life felt more right again. By the end of the brainstorm, we had worked out four stories in a series that would be a bit Dean Koontz-ish – a bit paranormal and intriguing but upbeat enough not to scare me silly.
This is the sister who has long, silly discussions with me about a celeriac that has gone into therapy and has driven the therapist into psychiatric care to recover from the trauma of their sessions. We kind of feel sorry for the therapist – but not enough to stop developing crazy scenarios. Either one of us just needs to mention the word ‘celeriac’ and we are off on a wild tangent and giggling away hysterically.
I love my family. I love them as individual people who are caring, intelligent, fun, and talented, but also for our shared memories of growing up with our parents (there are two sets of us. My two older sisters had pretty much left home by the time I was born, and so my younger sister and I grew up as the second wave of children).
And our shared experiences of being writers. Not everyone understands the writing life and the ways our minds work, so being surrounded by writers is a blessing.
But, mostly I love our shared humour and the fact that we all understand each other so well. When Mum was alive, I could tell what she was going to say before she even opened her mouth. I have no idea how I knew but I just knew. I would say my knowing out loud and Mum would be amazed. The same thing happens with my daughter – she just knows me more than anyone else in the world. We are connected in a deep way. With my sisters, it feels very similar. We get each other in ways that other people don’t. I really cherish it.
To be so gotten is to feel so blessed.