The first give away for Sincerely Yours is underway! Visit Goodreads between now and April 1 to win a copy of this new novella collection featuring me, Amanda Cabot, Laurie Alice Eakes and Ann Shorey. (and not to worry if you are not on Goodreads...there will be more giveaways to come!)
Sincerely Yours is about the power of words to touch another's life. Sometimes aspiring writers think they have to have a level of success to match the effort they put in to writing a story. And we writer's often diminish ourselves when that effort doesn't match up with big earnings, fame or fortune.
I wrote an entire book about how easily writers can misplace fame for fulfillment (Barcelona Calling ) so I won't attempt to show the pitfalls of a definition of success that carries dollar signs rather than the joy of accomplishment. Rather this is a story about the act of writing a letter to another and how important that act can be.
Carolyn See in her book Making a Literary Life has her students write letters that "make you sweat." These are letters carrying passion, words meant to convey emotions that have the risk of rejection. The task of such effort can put a writer in touch with the energy needed to make their stories - essays, novels, histories - come alive because the writer has tapped into a deeper passion.
Long before I had heard of letters meant to "make you sweat" I remembered a special great aunt with whom I often stayed near our dairy farm in Wisconsin. I was at her home when my brother was born. After school events, she'd turn down the sheets, put a hot water bottle at my feet, and wait up for me just to say good-night. Widowed, she often spoke of her great love attaching a kindly man to the small wheelbarrow he'd made for me when I was too young to remember him.
Some years later, I decided to write to her and tell her of how much she'd meant to me. I was well into my forties then and I carefully shared with her how much her life meant to me. I sent it off. Later that week while sitting with my mom, I told her: "I sent a letter to Aunt Hilda this week, just to let her know of some of the precious memories she's given to me through the years."
My mother choked on her coffee.
"You wrote to Hilda? She died, probably two months ago. Didn't I tell you?"
I had to leave the room. In the bathroom I cried for her life but I was crying for my embarrassment too. Her poor family! They'd receive my missive and wonder what was wrong with me. My mom felt terrible, too. She called my cousin and told them of the letter. She apologized for not having told me of Hilda's death.
But when the letter arrived, my cousin called me. "Your wonderful words came in the mail and I know my mom read over my shoulder. And how she must have grinned and nodded and felt your words form loving arms around her. If I live my life in such a way that I'd one day receive a letter like the one you wrote, I'll believe I have lived a worthy life. Thank you. I was blessed to read it."
The letter, signed "Sincerely yours," never reached its intended recipient. But someone else received it and the words brought comfort. My lesson? Don't wait too long to send that special letter of admiration, especially if it's a letter to make you sweat. But most of all, be sure to send it.
Sincerely Yours goes on sale April 1st. However, it's currently available for Pre-order at a 26% discount on Amazon