The Letter Project

August 23, 2012

Special Delivery (366)

Filed under: Letters — Theresa Williams @ 7:24 pm
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The Back of Suzy’s Envelope. ( In response to a discussion we had about Andy Warhol.)


A letter from Suzy Anderson about writing and the imagination.  Also some pointed questions about what we mean when we say, “Epistolary Writing.”

19 August 2012

 Dear Theresa,

Thank you for your definition/difference of depression and melancholy. The depression I experienced was definitely a paralysis. And I lost my love/joy for music in the process and even though I knew I loved writing, it was a struggle to sit down and write. I’m not sure what exactly drives my writing—I want to learn more about the world, hear other people’s stories, and improve as a person. I’ve found that I am capable of feeling sad and happy at the same time. I prefer to say joy instead of happy anymore because joy is immediately seen (smile) and felt (like I’m inches off the ground flying around). Life is such a rollercoaster that to me it seems a shame to limit life with either/or thinking. Sometimes it is difficult to hold two thoughts at the same time, but then you have the opportunity to examine each and compare the two side by side. I talked to my sister the other night and she said she “moves so fast” (her words) that the past can’t catch up to her (my words). Since that convo I’ve had several images come to mind: 1. Walking up a mountain with a backpack filled with stones and I reach up and pick one and drop it as I keep walking. 2. Walking through the museum of my life and seeing objects, pictures, and placards with biographical details, and at the end an empty room waiting for me to fill it. 3. A rubber band connecting me to Reynoldsburg and my childhood; I am attempting to cut the rubber band to free myself from the past.

I feel like I do have a rich inner life because I daydream a lot, a lot. It keeps me going and is a wonderful story brainstorming habit. I am quite the functional daydreamer. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the emphasis we put on names. Yesterday at work my boss teased my co-workers to be careful because they might be in a book someday. I was amused at the names she chose for my co-workers Tiffany (Peppermint Patty) and Jenn (Lucy). Names seem to put the object/person in a box. I go by Suzy and Suzanna, but people aren’t always paying attention and sometimes call me “Suzanne.” At first I was annoyed and corrected them but then came to the conclusion—so what? (thank you, Andy Warhol). I know who they are talking to and addressing. Whatever. I am more than a name. One big reason I don’t want to take medication is because I’m afraid of swallowing pills. Another is because I want to work through my thoughts and feelings without aid, because with meds, I could say the meds fixed it instead of myself. I want true transformation. I’m glad meds have helped people, it’s just not a choice I would make for myself. I don’t want the rubber band to snap me back to the past. I guess I’m searching for a way to control it, to control my reaction to it, to minimize the hurt, to feel better about myself, to move forward in life and truly became a healthy being who is positive and joyful and able to laugh and able to let rejection slide off because I’m confident in my abilities and strong in my sense of self. Reflection is my best friend.

Until you wrote that you understand why the phoenix is a symbol I identify with, I didn’t realize that I should’ve included it on my moral landscape. I wrote five poems about phoenixes. It is going to be another poetry project I’m working on along with the project on fruits and vegetables and mother-daughter.

I can’t wait to meet Junius Pond in your novel. 🙂

Borderline personality disorder is difficult to explain, let alone diagnose and treat. It manifests differently in each person. The simplest way to describe it from the book I read is that the constant is inconsistency. Like a consistently inconsistent parent. There are nine criteria of symptoms. Funny that I’ve never seen an episode of “The Sopranos.” Art and literature have done so much for me to detach myself and analyze and put myself in front of emotions’ train and let myself get run over. The main reason I am the person I am today is because of art and literature. It is the venue I need to reflect on myself and adjust the mirror to make new connections.

I’m glad Whitney is exceeding all of your expectations. I also don’t feel like I know her well and through my correspondence with her, I feel I am getting to know her better. What a sentence to write! Let’s see, I took your fiction workshop, modern poetry, Native American lit, modern fiction, and contemporary fiction, and my Honors Project and my Creative Writing thesis. Wow, that is a lot.

I would love to work on a series of letters about the epistolary form. It would be entertaining and educating to explore the form more in depth.

I want to let you know too that our letters and conversations and teacher-student experiences have helped me get to know you. And the letters as a whole have been a fantastic looking glass as I present my voice on the page and share it with a soul who truly cares to listen. Thank you.






A series of questions we could explore, but not always come to a firm conclusion or answer


What is a letter? Loose definition, requirements, typical attributes (letter, envelope, stamp, art, communication)

Between a minimum of 2 parties, sender and recipient

What form/content does it contain?

Handwritten, typed? Sent through the postal service. Envelope (size, color, style), with a stamp as payment. Anything else included like a clipping, photo, or some small object?

What is the purpose of a letter?

Why write a letter? Who writes letters? What about journals/diaries, fragments, form (cut out, cross out, puzzle word, visual aspect)?

What art has been used?

What is the history of the letter? (letters of Pliny the Younger, writer to beginning writers, friends, family….)

Why read letters?

Does it have other works of literature like poetry and short stories and novels, film, etc.?


Date, salutation, text, signature, postscript



  1. […] my recent letter to Theresa. Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:LikeBe the first to like […]

    Pingback by The Letter Project–Letter to Theresa « Suzanna and Writing — August 24, 2012 @ 12:39 pm | Reply

  2. Suzy,
    I love the images in this letter. The letter as a whole makes me envious of your education, talent, youth.
    Coincidentally, I have also been working on a project about bipolar and borderline personality disorder. (Haven’t yet decides which of my characters has which disorder).
    Last night, at Prout Chapel, a young woman reminded me so much of you…It was as if your spirit is still on campus. It is.

    Comment by sagewriter — August 24, 2012 @ 3:23 pm | Reply

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