Trying to write The Letter, that first communication, to my natural father brought up all my writing fears. With every story or essay or article submission, I hoped for the coveted acceptance letter; I tried to take the rejections in stride. They are part of the business. As I drafted The Letter, though, I wasn’t sure how I would cope with a rejection.
Never had I been challenged with writing a more important lead. The first sentence had to suck him in, be the hook that carried and carried him, that compelled him to read on, to engage. I felt I had to build myself as the character about whom he would care so much he simply must find out what happens next. He, my father, would the next chapter, one way or another. I wanted to be the character for whom he wanted the best. The story had to be the one he couldn’t put down; the one he loved so much he must step into, become part of the action, move the plot forward to its conclusion, one the reader (and writer) would find satisfying. I had to find the perfect entry point for the action. I ran loads of questions through my head over and over: Where does the story begin? What of my back story does he need to see in order to feel connected without losing the thread of the action? What will feel too challenging or threatening for him to take on? What will be too easy to cast aside?
In the middle of it all, I found myself just wanting to pick up the phone and ring him. I suddenly wanted to hear his voice and get an immediate response. I decided it would be cruel to ambush him in that way and could make for a disastrous start to the relationship, if there was to be one.
So write I did. That was in 2007.
Here we are, still in contact. Amazing.