Now that we’ve got materials under our belt, how about finding some other sources for inspiration?
For the Love of Letters holds a special place in my heart as it is peppered with funny, heart-wrenching and self-deprecating anecdotes from Samara O’Shea’s life that, naturally, become the fuel for her art. In addition to her own missives, this book features letters penned by the likes of Marie Antoinette, Beethoven and Emily Post, as a means to instruct and offer advice on how to express oneself on the page. You can read an excerpt of the book and her latest musings on Letter Lover. In addition to publishing her latest title, Note to Self: On Keeping a Journal and Other Dangerous Pursuits, O’Shea also offers her services as a hired gun. I’m intrigued – I wonder what her most unusual letter request was for?
I made a mental note to find John Kralik’s book, 365 Thank Yous , after listening to his author interview on NPR. A short and sweet memoir, what struck me was his candor in describing the many ways in which 2007 almost broke him. A turbulent period of personal and professional challenges, as the year draws to a close , Kralik resolves to turn things around in some small way, by writing a thank you note a day. I imagine anyone who has received some unsolicited words of gratitude for acts, big and small, would be proud to receive one of Kralik’s missives. He is a keen observer and a lively narrator. While not a “how to” manual by any means, this book certainly gives me aspirations to convey with the same sort of humour and sincerity Kralik does, a deeper appreciation for the people in my life. And if that involves pen and paper, all the better!
Okay, you’re sick to death of the feel-good instruction manuals and memoirs. May I suggest a novel about the disappearance of an eccentric genius, told entirely through correspondence between her family, friends and enemies? I just finished Maria Semple’s Where’d You Go, Bernadette and would recommend it to anyone looking for a great read this summer.
Another gem of a site is Letters of Note, curated by Shaun Usher and described as an “attempt to gather and sort fascinating letters, postcards, telegrams, faxes, and memos.” It is an eclectic collection, from Annie Leibovitz to Walt Whitman. One of my favourites has got to be from the dynamic duo of Dr Honeydew and Beaker to the Mars Rover Mission team. Read the full transcript here.