Since I’m not writing my first book anymore, people have asked what I am writing these days. I‘ve been wrestling some new poems down on the page, but recently I started writing a birthday present. That’s right. I’m writing a birthday present…an essay to my sister, Heather.
In a few weeks I’ll travel with my husband and kids up to Philadelphia where Heather lives. My parents, siblings and the whole gaggle of grand kids will gather on June 22 to celebrate her 40th birthday. And (if they’ll indulge me) I’d like to read aloud to her the piece I’m working on. It’s my birthday gift to her.
In her definitive book, Bird by Bird on writing and life, Anne Lamott details two books she wrote that started as presents. Literally, she sat down every day to write the books as gifts. She says, “Publication is not going to change your life or solve your problems….[there are] other reasons to write that may surprise a writer….I wrote [the books] for them as carefully and soulfully as I could—which is, needless to say, how I wish I could write all the time.”
I wrote my first book, Finding Home with The Beatles, Bob Dylan and Billy Graham for me alone. I’ve never been more tender to myself than I was when writing my childhood story. I had to be gentle with myself, to coax out the truth from the timid child within.
And because I got the little girl inside me to finally speak up, I am freer than ever. Free to share my writing voice. Free to believe my words are a gift.