I have written before about my writing efforts and those occasional nudges of encouragement from out of the blue, little nudges from editors, writers and others who do not feel they have to be nice for the sake of it. People who like the work on its merits. It is a great feeling when a piece of writing hits the spot and, in recent days, I have had a big nudge of encouragement in terms of funding from The National Lottery through the Arts Council of Northern Ireland for a research and writing project called 'In Search of My Father: The Mystery of 22 Missing Years'.
Briefly, my father left our Belfast home, his wife and seven young children in 1960 and pretty much vanished. In 1982, we were informed that he had died at 57 in Clapham, London. There is a gap in our family knowledge of him of twenty-two years.
I have a collection of items given to me and my brother at his funeral - some letters, photographs and other assorted bits and pieces. Some of the items are facts, others are clues to follow up and questions that need answers.
I was encouraged to pitch the idea for a memoir and I will be devoting quite a bit of time to this project in the next year, travelling to follow in his footsteps, digging away at archives, squeezing out every last drop of information I can find along the way and I will be as prepared as I can be for any unexpected twists and turns.
This is not a boohoo, poor old Joe, sorry tale. But, it has the potential to be more emotional than I think at this early stage. This is a writer's investigation from a son's point of view.
The project is underway. I am tempted to chronicle progress on this blog but I have decided not to. I will gather and assemble as many pieces of this jigsaw puzzle and, hopefully, publish a book towards the end of 2017.
I have been asked more than once: "What's the point of raking up the past?" Great question. Well, it's as much my story as his story and it just intrigues me. Simple as that.