I thought bigger states would lead to bigger things, or at least to a "writers' tea party of my imagination," as described by fellow group member and then-stay-at-home mom/writer Julianna Baggott. (I might be paraphrasing, but that's how I replay it.)
Even though I've been lucky enough to write what I like and sometimes get paid for it, I've never again been part of an active community of writers. Until today. Margo Hammond, a former book editor for the St. Petersburg Times and all-around Book Babe, lead a memoir class - at a tea house even - with writers, both aspiring and seasoned.
The class was packed and I drank way too much coffee, despite the whole tea drinking dream. Margo began by giving us a choice of three writing prompts. I picked writing a letter to someone dead.
Dear Grandfather Morgan,
I don't even know your first name, and I've never addressed any of my grandparents as "Grandmother" or "Grandfather." It's too formal. You're the only grandparent I never got to meet. You died when my dad was in junior or senior high school, my uncle half his age.I've seen one photo of you from Granma's wallet, which I kept for years after she died. 30 years after your death. She was 30 years younger than you, a single mother in the early 60's.I don't know what you did for a living or even if you loved Dot and your family. She never talked about you, she never dated or remarried. Did you scare her, scar her, leave a bad first impression of love? Why on earth did you think it was a good idea to marry your daughter's best friend? Like my Granma though, I married someone three decades older than me.
I loved what Margo said about authenticity: "The more specific you write, the more universal it becomes. And the more people will want to read you."
As much as I love journalism and the pleasure of telling someone else's story, I much prefer them to have the tools to tell their stories themselves. Not to mention getting the chance to tell my own.