Anyone can write. That means you. And when you do, you can confidently say that no one has a style (a voice) like yours. There are unlimited opportunities to take pen to paper or, if you must, fingers to keyboard. The level of your spelling, grammar, punctuation and syntax are not important. The passion which you invest in your writing is what counts.
I have written heaps of letters, cards and postcards to family, friends and lovers - for all occasions: holidays, birthdays, matrimonies, bereavements, graduations, accomplishments, thank yous, hellos, goodbyes, apologies and explanations.
Yet, this is an era in which most of us almost never send or receive a hand-written personal piece of mail. We are poorer for this blight. If you are like me, don’t you hope that a postcard from Bali or Morocco (or even from across town) slips out of your daily pile of bills, catalogues and promotions for the neighborhood’s best sushi, pizza and Chinese food? Or a letter with your name in ink on it with the return address of an old lost friend or lover finds its way into your greedy hands? With an exotic stamp or two on it?
The quandary, though, is most of the time you have to send one before you get one. So, next time you fondly recall that special someone, take the time to compose a few lines - and mail it. I promise: it is one of life’s forgotten simple pleasures. Furthermore, that seemingly trivial deed of communicating and posting some goodwill will elevate the mood of the person who receives it all day and probably longer.
As for those aforementioned postcards, they are often savored like gifts. And I had no idea. How do I know, you ask? When visiting friends, I see postcards I sent them on their refrigerator doors, wedged into mirror frames, tacked to cork boards and taped to walls in kitchens and studies.
A few longtime friends have stacks of them, spanning decades, bound together with rubber bands, safely secured in drawers and closets. Now that calls for a toast!
As for your own personal well-being, whether you are feeling sky high or blue, buoyant or lost, sit down with a beverage and just unload your feelings on paper with a pen or, better yet, in a notebook, so you can catalogue these sessions and revisit them. List your goals, dreams and desires. Crystallize them in words. Add or subtract from them as you achieve one or change your mind/direction. It’s like talking to a friend or a mentor, except the friend or mentor is yourself.
Seeing your inner mind written on paper - right before your eyes - is revealing, instructive and, hopefully, motivational! It is virtually automatic: I always feel better, relieved, after I pour my thoughts and feelings onto a blank page. Writing as therapy, as medicine, as healing is something to get addicted to.
During the last 50 years, inspired by my own pleasures, travails and what I glean from the outside world, I have written dozens of articles in newspapers and magazines and hundreds of poems, some even recorded as songs by musicians. For me, there are few joys which equal hearing my words sung in a song. That’s about as close to giving birth as I will ever experience, I reckon.
Try writing a poem sometimes and giving it to a musician friend, no matter how good or bad you think it is. Just for fun, fun being the operative word!
On the other hand, I have twice written spiteful letters to people I am intimate with (once on the Internet and once in ink). One was intercepted while the other mysteriously combusted in cyberspace, never to wound their targets. Had those hurtful letters ever reached them, those friendships could have been destroyed or at least ruptured.
Composing letters like those is cathartic. However, words are powerful. Don’t send them unless you really, really must. Cool down first and seriously consider the consequences of mailing an explosive letter.
Lacking courage at times and fearful of being rebuffed face-to-face, I have slipped flattering notes and short letters to women I was attracted to in stores, restaurants, concert halls, on planes, trains, buses and places I can’t even remember. Mostly, with little or no reaction but, on occasion, with remarkable results. Naturally, if you don’t try, you’ll never know.
And I always feel complete and more confident just for having had the pluck and verve to write, approach and deliver my pleas to the targets of my affection.
Who needs Cyrano de Bergerac?
Already this year I have written to four columnists/journalists in my award-winning city newspaper, The Boston Globe. Surprise: All of them wrote back. Bigger surprise: the two politicians I wrote to also responded. Albeit, all via the Internet.
Hot tip: you can write for this magazine if you like. The good word is write. Right? Write! Just do it…