I like to read because I know somebody wrote it.
And even if it doesn’t apply to me, what they wrote meant everything to them.
And I get a taste of what and how someone feels.
|—||Mary Karr in My Ideal Bookshelf|
What an amazing piece. Par Avion created by Wendi Norris. She cut up and packaged a Cessna 173 in to 70 small pieces that fit the maximum capacity of Australian postage regulations and hand mailed them to a gallery in San Francisco. Then they were resent back to Australia. Beautiful.
Last week, I sent Halloween greeting cards to my pen pals, most of whom live overseas in places where Halloween isn’t celebrated as it is here in North America. It was the first piece of snail mail that I was sending each of them so I thought to myself, “Why not send them something special in honor of my favorite holiday?”
Anyway, these were just brief messages. The actual, full-length letters should be finished and sent out this weekend, hopefully.
At the bottom is the fountain pen I used to write my messages. It’s also the first fountain pen I’ve ever used and my experience with it was mixed. I later found out that I wasn’t using proper technique, which probably explains the trouble I had.
|—||F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby|
Eleven Kinds of Loneliness, a collection of short stories written by Richard Yates and published in 1962.
|—||Richard Yates, American novelist & short-story writer (1926-1992)|
Your penpal just wrote you a five-page-long missive on how she choose a flavor of toothpaste. In front of you lies the vast emptiness of a blank piece of notebook paper. If you’ve spent at least ten minutes wishing for one of those Harry Potter-style quills that can write without any human assistance, read on.
1. Stop trying to write. Draw your penpal a picture instead. Don’t worry about shading, realism, or market value; just share something from your life. Whether it’s a picture of your current deodorant or the dragon you battled in your dream last night, your penpal will be impressed. (Just think: it could end up stuck on her minifridge.) If the thought of sketching really makes you cringe, grab a camera. Your entire letter can be captions for sneaky under-the-table shots of your coworkers, that picture of you screaming your way down a roller coaster from last weekend, and an adorable photo of your pet panda. (Maybe attach a couple more photos of the panda.)
2. If you honestly don’t think you have anything to write about, go do something. Cook a four-course meal, learn how to juggle from youtube, make an obstacle course for your little brother, or find some friends and wreak havoc. If you’ve got a summer job, internship, or are taking classes, you’ve definitely got some quality letter-writing material: pay attention to your physics teacher’s wacky quirks, and remember all the details of the customer who inexplicably told you about his sex life. Just because your penpal is in India learning how to hang-glide while saving orca whales doesn’t mean your life isn’t interesting enough to write about.
3. Make some lists. Ten things you want to do before you die, your favorite flavors of ice cream, goals for summer, your grocery list for next week (make sure to keep a copy), things you’re scared of, your top ten favorite movies, the best things you’ve learned this year…
4. Think about how you talk to your friends. Think about how your friends talk to you. What’s the last story you heard that made you laugh? What’s the last text you sent in reference to?
5. Try your hand at poetry. Tell a story completely in haiku or rhyming couplets. Experiment with limericks. Figure out how to write a sonnet. Use your words to make a picture. Write something to the tune of your favorite song.
And just as a general word of advice: write your reply immediately after you read your penpal’s letter. If you wait too long, you might forget all the questions you wanted to ask and all the stories you wanted to tell. Plus you might forget to respond entirely and end up losing the letter underneath your unmade bed. It is summer, after all.