It is with great sadness that I tell you that my brother, Joel, passed away last night. I was with him, by his side. The funeral is tomorrow in Pennsylvania and I will have my family near me.
I want to use this as a teaching moment, in part to inspire you, but also because what I have to say is fact, and not the stuff of dreams or ambition:
Writing can and does change the world. When we are all gone, we can be assured that what we write will outlive us.
I know this because my brother wrote for a living. I know this because he would write to me, and I would write back — from a very young age. I probably learned to write my first words because of him. I didn’t want to rely on our mom to write for me. I wanted to be big, grown up.
Back then we wrote by hand or by typewriter. We put a stamp on the envelope, and then we waited for a reply.
His paragraphs were well formed. His revisions, clear. He never talked “down” to me as a little kid. I will show you:
He makes good writing look easy — and it isn’t; but I think the effort is worth the result. When I read him back then, for a moment I could forget that there was a long distance between us (we always lived far away). I forgot I was “reading” and he was “writing.” It’s like the page wasn’t there. We collapsed time and space.
Oh yeah, writing can do that, too.
Like the letter says, the same goes for all of us: “Now, it’s [our] turn to write.”