Letter writing is the only device for combining solitude with good company.
A Month of Letters has begun. So far, I’ve managed to keep up. (Considering that this is day three, that’s not such a big deal.) I didn’t log into the site last week or over the weekend to log in daily, and I’m not sure I will–for me, part of this ‘challenge’ is to unplug a bit, not to add more on my online to-do list. That list is full enough as it is:-)
I love sitting down to write a letter. I love pulling out nice stationery, maybe matching it to the recipient if I can in order to bring a smile to his or her face right away, before the reading is even begun. And the forums over at Lettermo (the Month of Letters website) have shown me that I’m far from alone in these likes.
Years ago, letter writing also taught me about character voice, in a round-about way. My family had a long history of writing letters to one another. Whether on vacation or from snowbird overwintering in Florida, my grandma, aunt, parents and various siblings all wrote letters home. Being the youngest, at home the longest, I got to read them all. It influenced how I wrote. My aunt wrote exactly how she spoke, using small jokes, funny words (she was an executive secretary in the day when that really meant something), and everyday events to paint a picture of her day. So did my grandma, my parents, etc. When I wrote my friends, I naturally did the same thing. My friend Amy commented to me, after I returned from one trip, that my letter to her sounded just like I was talking to her, not all stiff like most letters.
That comment resonated in my mind. All these years later it still does. It made me think. Specifically, it made me think about how what we say, and how we say it, reflect our personalities and how others view us. It was early training in writing in a character’s voice. It was also just nice to get letters that sounded like the people sending them to you, hearing them inside your head as you read the words scratched or scrawled or neatly scripted onto the page.
Looking for a writing exercise? Write a letter from your main character to someone. Use his or her voice, the words he/she would use, the tone. Make it a friend and include jokes or funny observations. Discover how he/she views the world, and more of his/her personal backstory.
Just looking for fun? Write a letter to a friend and drop it in the mail. Brighten someone’s day by letting them find something other than junk mail and bills in the mailbox. And enjoy some good company in your solitude.