While I was in North Carolina I read a fabulous book. It was moving and funny and superbly written. It made me smile, and cry, and even better it really made me think.
First it made me think about book clubs and how they could be seriously improved.
Then it made me think about my own book and how I want it to move people the way the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society moved me.
Last it made me wonder what happened to good letter writing. It’s an epistolary novel. The story unfolds witty letter after witty letter. They’re well written, entertaining, really just delightful. I’m sorry, but there’s really no other word.
When I closed the book after finishing it I was sad that all the letters were done and I wouldn’t get to read another. Which led me to wonder about the demise of great letter writing.
I remember writing 16 page letters to my friends when I was a teen. I remember reading their 24 page replies. We went into excruciating details about our lives, our hopes, our fears… anything and everything that ever went on in our day to day lives. I loved imagining my friends reading my letters as I lay on my bed writing page after page.
Then the email was born and, even though we lived thousands of miles away from each other, in a few hastily typed paragraphs we could keep each other updated daily. But you know, I think that some of us had souls that craved those lengthier missives. The more poetic language reserved for letters. Even the lyrical qualities of epistolary stories.
We’re the ones who started blogs.
Instead of writing our tales and directing them to just one person, we write them to anyone who will read them. We weave our stories and we post them online instead of posting them in the mail. We might not start any blog posts with the word ‘Dear’ or finish with “love, me” but these are letters nonetheless. Letters about our lives, our hopes, our fears… about anything that crosses our minds that we need to share with someone we love and trust.
I still wish I had it in me to write lengthy letters to my close friends, but I get frustrated at the thought of having to write the same information over and over again. It just seems easier to write it all down in one place and to share it with anyone who might be interested in reading it. And don’t think that I don’t imagine you reading this as I write it. I might not have a clear idea of what your living room looks like or what computer you’re reading on, but I often didn’t know what my friend’s homes looked like after they moved away. And I might not know what you look like either, but in my heart I still know you. You’re my friend. And you’re reading my letters to you. Every day.
Thanks for reading.