As a writer I get so caught up in the word count, plotting, and character arc that I sometimes forget there is more to writing than fiction.
I was in the grocery store over the weekend, and I happened to overhear two little boys talking about the holiday. The one boy said, “So what is Memorial Day anyway?” The other piped in assuredly,
“It’s when all the families get together to have a cookout. Don’t you know anything?”
My heart sank a little. I then wondered if I had overlooked the importance of explaining this holiday to my children as they were growing up. I hope not. Then one thought led to another, and somehow my thoughts came back to writing. Because in my life, everything comes back to writing!
I started thinking about all the letters that had been written over the years to loved ones serving our country, so we can be free to write fiction or do whatever else we want to do. I pictured the importance of what one or two pages of words could mean to the recipient. Of course, I know that email is immediate and mostly used today, but I was mostly thinking back to old-fashioned letters. The World War I and World War II era.
When you are separated by circumstance, I can only imagine how important those few pages of words could be. I pictured women waiting impatiently by the mail box desperately seeking communication from their husbands, boyfriends, or fiancés’. It’s more than a letter they were waiting for. It was the assurance that their loved one was okay, still alive, still safe.
Then I pictured the other end of the letter spectrum. I imagined the faces of the soldiers as they passed out the letters from home. Hearts pounding as they’d call the names one by one, followed by elated excitement when they’d hear their name among the list. The letter may have been doused in his lady’s beloved perfume, or imprinted with a kiss in his favorite lipstick color. However, it’s the one or two pages of words that probably meant the most. To him, it was almost certainly one of the most important things he’d ever read. There was no spell check, no word count, just sweet words of endearment.
I’m not sure what happened to me standing in the middle of the Harris Teeter as I was reminded how important Memorial Day is for me and my country. I was proud to be an American. I was proud to be a writer. I become conscious of the importance of words in more ways than one.
I honor those that have lost their lives serving our country and those that still risk their lives every day. If you have a loved one in the armed forces, or even if you don’t, why not take a few minutes and write something different? Write a letter to a soldier. It could be one of the most important things they’ll ever read.
Here’s a few links to help you get started.
As always, Remember to Dream Big!