So, you want to be a writer, or maybe you want to be a better writer. How do you go about it? You can go to workshops, conferences, enroll in writing courses, hire an editor. All of that will help. You can also read great books, and not just writing books.
But you know what else you can do? You can write. I’m talking about incorporating writing into your whole life, not just your writing life. The more ways you find to write, the better you will write.
A million years ago before the internet and later social media, people wrote to one another. Handwritten letters. Cards. Notes.
When is the last time you wrote a letter? Do you still send Christmas or birthday cards or have you resorted to sending either eCards or a greeting on Twitter or Facebook? Do you add a personal note to the canned verse your card contains?
Before the pandemic, I visited my closest cousin, John. We went through letters written by our relatives when they came to Boston from Ireland in the early 1900’s. The letters from family in Ireland consoling my great-grandmother after she lost her son during World War 1 were touching, but also revealed much that we didn’t know before about her story. What will happen a hundred years from now when the grandchildren of our children want to know what we were thinking or feeling? Will someone dig up the Facebook archives? And even if they do, will anyone ever know the beauty of words handwritten in ink on paper?
John began writing to me during the pandemic. His salutation always began, “My dear cousin, Michele,” which was how the letters to and from Ireland began. The letters weren’t long, but in his beautiful penmanship, John let me know he cared about me and wanted me to stay well. The bonus was that he designed his own notecards. I can’t explain how a handwritten note on a personally designed card moved me.
I began reaching out to others with notes and cards. I didn’t get the artist gene that John was lucky to receive, but I found beautiful cards designed by endless artists who were genetically blessed at the stationery shop where I am writer in residence. Every time I peruse the magnificent supply of cards, notes, and stationery, I find something that fits a connection to a person I want to reach out to. It makes me happy to think I may be bringing joy to someone I care about.
And the bonus? The more I write notes and cards and letter, the better I write. What is dialogue if not the message contained within a communication to another human being? And the second bonus? People are writing to me!
Here’s my question: Have you ever written a love letter? Tell us about it. Or do they only happen in books?
Michele Dorsey is the author of Oh Danny Girl and the Sabrina Salter series, including No Virgin Island, Permanent Sunset, Tropical Depression, and Salt Water Wounds. Michele is a lawyer, mediator, former adjunct law professor and nurse, who didn’t know she could be a writer when she grew up. Now that she does, Michele writes constantly, whether on St John, outer Cape Cod, or anywhere within a mile of the ocean.