The Letter Project

November 22, 2009

Special Delivery (41)

Filed under: Letters — Theresa Williams @ 1:51 am
Tags: , ,

This is my response to Wayne Barham’s November letter [see letter #39].  –TW

7 November 2009

Dear Wayne,

I so enjoyed your November letter about authenticity.  The story you mentioned—the one about the young man working in the convenience store—I believe I remember it.  It was a story you submitted to Bill Hallberg’s workshop.  That was the semester you used to follow me out to my car and we’d talk about just about everything.  We’d talk as we were walking and as I loaded up my car for the trek back home.  We were filled with a lot of naïve hope back then.  Of course, I had no way of knowing how conflicted you were about your identity.  I was drawn to your energy, intelligence, and kindness.

Thank you for letting me post your letter at The Letter Project.  At first I was glad that you gave me permission to shorten it.  But as I began typing it, I found I couldn’t let lose of a single word.  I became more and more intrigued by the settings and how they played along with the theme of your letter.  Here you were in a courtroom (the whole truth) and then a Laundromat (come clean).  You wrote of school (intellect vs. identity) and also Disney (playing the part).   And I thought—how exciting.  Your letter was like reading a great short story about someone coming to terms with the meaning of art in his life.  I will take what you said about courage to heart.  I’m ever trying to be more courageous in my writing.  It’s a hard thing to do, but I tell myself if I can’t do it—ultimately—why bother to write at all?

And I thought, this is the way all good writing happens.  We think we’re simply presenting facts (I’m in a courthouse) but the unconscious is smart.  Without knowing it, you were writing of much deeper things.  And this is how we write our stories, too.  We begin by outlining something that happened.  Gradually meaning begins hovering over our pages, little ghosts of our primordial selves.  We begin to make connections, find ways to deepen the experience of narrative for our readers.  So…as I typed your letter, I realized each detail of your letter was linked to your theme, and I couldn’t take anything out!

What happened in your letter is fundamental to all good writing, and it’s why I’m sad that people don’t write letters anymore.  In letters we find our deeper selves.

This is all I will say in my November letter, Wayne.  Just that I’m thankful for our friendship and that I thank you for renewing our contact with one another.  I’m thankful for your willingness to share your letters at The Letter Project.  And I want to encourage you to write stories as you’ve written your letter—without a thought for any deeper meaning at first.  You’ll find the connections as you write! 




1 Comment »

  1. This was such a beautiful response; I love to write letters too!

    Comment by philsmom — December 31, 2012 @ 2:17 pm | Reply

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