December 27, 2010 by David Gillaspie
For Important Readers (Inspired By Larry Brooks, http://storyfix.com/the-most-important-thing-you%e2%80%99ll-ever-write)
The words you choose define who you are, so use them carefully.
Writing for your toughest audience means extra care, and I don’t mean an agent query letter. I mean your family.
Whether you come from a loving bosom like a favorite sit-com family, the hellish closet of child murderer Diane Downs, or Pat Conroy’s Great Santini, your family deserves the writing credits you achieve.
Share your success with them by writing them a letter like Larry Brooks. Part one of Important Writing included mom and dad. If you’re an only child, you’re finished.
If not, get busy.
An older sibling letter.
Did you wear long-sleeved shirts in the summer? Did other kids wonder why, and you told them you were cold because you didn’t want them to see the mass of bruises you got from an older sibling who couldn’t stop punching you?
Did you spend your childhood studying anatomy and disease and how to fake paralysis because those were the only things that slowed slugger down? Maybe you learned a combat sport because you knew there would come a day…?
Did that day come during a college break at home when you and the older sibling made an agreement where he would pick up a younger sibling if you dropped him at the movies, then he refused? Did you tell him to get off his fat butt and get in the car?
Is this when older sibling head-butted you in the face, kneed you in groin, and called you a punk who had better do what the heck he says, or else? And you responded by jacking him up and keeping him off balance, breaking furniture and caving in walls, until he was jammed into a hall corner where you trapped him by pushing his arm across his chest.
Did you punch him in the gut and slap his face hard each time he opened his mouth until he flinched with each movement? Did you break him then turn and walk away, knowing he’d never raise a hand against you the rest of his life?
Write him a nice letter of thanks, and apologize for being so unruly. Then move on.
Younger sibling letter.
It’s tough at any age when parents get divorced. It’s tougher for kids still living at home.
Did your little brother fall through the parent cracks after their divorce because he was in college? Mom has a new husband, dad has new girlfriends who don’t need competition for his attention? Did little brother spend holidays in his dorm room?
Did younger sibling take what he learned from abandonment and make sure no kid around him would ever have to feel that way? Did he use that knowledge to reach into the community and give kids a sense of welcome?
Did he make a home where his own kids come to feel safe? Choose words in a letter that say how you feel.
Sister with brothers, or brother with sisters.
Do you have a little sister who is the jewel of your mother’s eye? For her, there is no thanks great enough, no praise loud enough. The saying ‘No one knows a mother’s love except another mother’ is in its truest form when a daughter becomes a mother.
Did your sister live through the trauma of a broken family? Did she keep her head up when the weight of all possible worlds pushed her down? Did she endure the ignorance of a step-mother who turned her own father against her? Did she find the love of her life and build her own family on a solid foundation?
The words for this sibling connect awe and encouragement.
Sift through the words you need to write to your family members, just know none of them are adequate for your own spouse and children. The emotions that come with the highs and lows of adult lives woven together by choice need a special vocabulary.
The first word is love.