Friday, June 12, 2009

Personal Letters

When was the last time you mailed a personal letter? I mailed one this morning, and you should mail one tomorrow – by Monday at the latest.

Back in March, I went to a legal-writing seminar presented by Bryan Garner, legal-writing instructor extraordinaire. In addition to receiving all the free Starbucks coffee I could drink in the Biltmore's Copper Room, I received several directives aimed at forcing me to put into effect what I had learned. One of these was: "Write a letter every day for six months."

Now of course I haven't been able to do this. I had a writing assignment to finish, exams to take, as well as a baby to deliver (well, I didn't actually deliver the baby, but you get my drift). But even if I haven't lived up to the ideal, it's better than living without it. The ideal has an attractive power. So when I do get too busy to write, the ideal pulls me back into the writing life.

But how does daily letter writing serve the ideal? The ideal writer writes every day, practices every day, gets better every day. Writing letters to friends and acquaintances gives a writer ample material to work with. There is a natural variety of subject matter in the events of daily life and the differences between recipients gives some scope for varying tone and treatment.

Plus, letters strengthen the fine mesh of friendship. So write a letter today, tonight, or tomorrow.

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