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I joined a writing group.

Oh, I probably should have waited for you to sit down before I dropped that on you. Sorry ’bout that.

Anyway, it’s a non-fiction/memoir type of group. I joined it for a couple of reasons. First, I need to figure out a way to jump-start my writing so that I can write consistently. Second, I need to find my people.  I’m not sure this group is exactly the right fit as I am (by at least a decade) the youngest person there. It’s a start, though, and that’s the important thing.

Everyone there is working on something, except me. I only have an idea, a very vague one, at that. The idea is to take all the stories about my mom (see category Moc and Family) and turn them into a book. I just didn’t know where to start or how to take blog posts that are short and snappy (and often with pictures) and put them in essay form. At that first writer’s group meeting, I mentioned that I have a shirt box filled with letters my dad wrote to MoC while he was in the Army.

That’s when another idea started to tug very gently at my brain. What if I could use those letters to tell the story of how they got together – and tie it in with my stories about MoC? Could I do that? Do I even want to do that?

I’ve talked a lot about how my childhood is mostly blank. It was very chaotic and my defense was just to block it all out. The memories I have of my father are, for the most part, unpleasant. So reading those letters might be a way to get to know him at a different level. In the back of my mind, I must have had that idea a long time ago. After all, I’ve had that box of letters for the last six years. If I didn’t want to read them or use them (even if it wasn’t for a project, but only to learn more about him) then I would have gotten rid of the box. I am in no way a pack rat. I’m not even very sentimental, so I don’t keep things I have no use for.

I separated the letters into two years – 1956 and 1957. I haven’t done more than that and haven’t started reading them, although I did have to open a few to find a date when the postage wasn’t legible. In doing that, I caught glimpses of someone different from the father I knew.

It might be worth exploring.

What do you think? Would you let the past stay in the past, or would you use the letters to try to understand the past in order to change your own future?