Here are a few notable quotes and excerpts that capture the essence of letter writing. Hopefully, they prove useful for this week’s writing prompt: Write a Letter of Love, Admiration, or Solace.
“A letter always seemed to me like immortality because it is the mind alone without corporeal friend.”Emily Dickinson
“To write is human, to receive a letter: Devine!”Susan Lendroth
“More than kisses, letters mingle souls”John Donne
“Letter writing is the only device for combining solitude with good company.”Lord Byron
“What a lot we lost when we stopped writing letters. You can’t reread a phone call. ”Liz Carpenter
“I am tired, Beloved,
of chafing my heart against
the want of you;
of squeezing it into little inkdrops,
And posting it.”Amy Lowell, “The Letter”
“It takes two to write a letter as much as it takes two to make a quarrel.”Elizabeth Drew
“We lay aside letters never to read them again, and at last we destroy them out of discretion, and so disappears the most beautiful, the most immediate breath of life, irrecoverable for ourselves and for others.”Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
“The age of technology has both revived the use of writing and provided ever more reasons for its spiritual solace. Emails are letters, after all, more lasting than phone calls, even if many of them r 2 cursory 4 u.”Anna Quindlen
“Always write angry letters to your enemies. Never mail them.”James Fallows
“I consider it a good rule for letter-writing to leave unmentioned what the recipient already knows, and instead tell him something new.”Sigmund Freud
“There must be millions of people all over the world who never get any love letters… I could be their leader.”Charlie Brown
“I have now attained the true art of letter-writing, which we are always told, is to express on paper exactly what one would say to the same person by word of mouth.”.Jane Austen
I am reduced to a thing that wants Virginia. I composed a beautiful letter to you in the sleepless nightmare hours of the night, and it has all gone: I just miss you, in a quite simple desperate human way. You, with all your un-dumb letters, would never write so elementary phrase as that; perhaps you wouldn’t even feel it. And yet I believe you’ll be sensible of a little gap. But you’d clothe it in so exquisite a phrase that it would lose a little of its reality. Whereas with me it is quite stark: I miss you even more than I could have believed; and I was prepared to miss you a good deal. So this letter is just really a squeal of pain. It is incredible how essential to me you have become. I suppose you are accustomed to people saying these things. Damn you, spoilt creature; I shan’t make you love me any the more by giving myself away like this — But oh my dear, I can’t be clever and stand-offish with you: I love you too much for that. Too truly. You have no idea how stand-offish I can be with people I don’t love. I have brought it to a fine art. But you have broken down my defences. And I don’t really resent it …
Please forgive me for writing such a miserable letter.
– V.From Sackville-West to Woolf; Milan [posted in Trieste]; Thursday, January 21, 1926 Source: the Paris Review
What are your thoughts and feelings on some of the quotes and excerpts above?
Do you think letters themselves have a timeless quality to them? That they always encompass two individuals in a certain type of intimacy? Is that type of intimacy what makes them so uncomfortable to write? Is what is not included in a letter as important as what is included in it? Or more important, perhaps? Share your thoughts and feelings in the comments at the bottom of the page.
On a personal note, I’ll never forget an experience I had when I was working for a nonprofit organization many years ago.
I was getting ready to schedule and send out a blast of emails to our members, supporters, and donors regarding an upcoming fundraising event. As I was clicking and clacking away on my keyboard, I started to hear a dinging noise every ten or fifteen seconds. Once the noise got my attention, I peeked over the side of my cubicle wall to see the organization’s director typing away on his typewriter in the far corner of the office. I went over and talked to him about what he was doing. He said that he liked to give each letter he sent out a more personal touch, and always included a fresh signature of his in every letter he wrote too.
That experience stuck with me over the years.
If you write a letter by hand or type it out on a typewriter, you seem to give it a greater level of attention. I try to send and leave hand-written notes as often as possible now. It might be “old-school” but it does tend to leave a lasting impression, especially thank-you letters or letters of condolence.
I’m still not sure whom I’ll address my letter to, but do know that it will be personalized and honest. It will likely center around events and situations of 2020, but we shall see… still some drafting to do. Stay tuned for my completed draft of this prompt. It’ll be posted on the blog on Friday.
How’s your draft going? Write your own letter of love, admiration, or solace this week too. Share a link to it in the comments, or tag me @kecreighton on social media ( Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Medium ) to share more about your own process.
Until then, scroll down to subscribe to Daily Drafts & Dialogues posts to get more inspiration as you complete this week’s writing prompt.
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