Tag Archive for: letters

On Letter Narrative

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I’ve been thinking about the weight of narrative written in different forms.  Particularly, I’ve been mulling over the power of a simple letter.

The Letter.  Written from one person to another, a letter carries an intimacy that very few other forms of communication carry.  It speaks to knowing the person, speaks of connection.  Letters, unlike free-flowing conversations, are distinctly one-sided and can be written as hastily or as thoughtfully as the writer so desires.


When Amber and I were in college, I made a significant mistake.  I cannot now remember the particularities of that mistake, and for purposes of this example, they do not much matter.  In any event, I received a letter from Amber in the mail.  It started with, “Dearest Seth, I am so sorry and I hope that you will forgive me….”  The correspondence continued, sharing how much Amber loved me, and couldn’t wait to see me.  I must admit, I was confused because I was the one that made the mistake.  But then, as I rifled through my other mail, I saw another letter from Amber, one time stamped an hour prior to the one I had just read.  It stated:

Dear Seth,




See with the first letter (which was actually the second letter I received), Amber insinuated that my mistake had led to our breaking up.  She did it with few words in a very intimate form of communication.  In her second letter (the first letter I received), she became more vulnerable, realized that she had compounded my mistake with one of her own and asked for my forgiveness.  The second letter took her some time to write and took a distinctly warmer tone.

As an aside, I must admit that I’ve always been glad I received the letters in reverse order.  Who knows what would have happened otherwise.

As you can see, the intimacy of the letter makes for a great narrative vehicle.  Stories can be written as if to a particular reader, but the remainder of the viewing audience gets this kind of voyeuristic thrill, as if getting a sneak peek into a world intended only for the writer and the recipient.  It piques the curiosity of the reader: what is the back story, how long have they been married, what was that argument all about in the first place?  The narrative correspondence creates opportunity for imaginations to run wild and perhaps that is the beauty.

This week, Amber and I experimented with some story-telling letters.  On Tuesday, John Blase did the same.  Go read his letter then come back here.  Do you like the correspondence as a form of narrative story telling?  Why or why not?

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A Letter to Amber — Bringing Sexy Back {Yeah!}

**Today Amber and I are writing short letters to each other.  Check hers out here.


Definitions change.

When we were younger, “sexy” meant a bottle of wine and Ben Harper on the stereo.  A coffee shop date.  Walking arm-in-arm in the snow.  Sexy was pent-up, explosive.  Sexy looked for any private place to steal a kiss.

They told us that children would change everything and they were right.  Sexy became a bottle of wine and a bad movie after our two children went to bed, something suitable for mind-numbing like My Super Ex-Girlfriend. 

With four children, sexy is an empty teapot and surviving the witching hour.  Sexy happens while we ward off the sleep-walkers and the mid-night thirsters.  It is more fleeting, maybe even more pent-up.  Sexy is tired…

It’s a phaseThat’s what they promise.

Do you remember when my parents kept our kids two summers ago?  Remember the quiet dinner on the patio?  Afterwards, we went to Jared and Lindi’s and listened to the Boss on vinyl—Nebraska, that grand, sultry album.  After we drove home, we pulled the mattress into the living floor and listened to old 90’s rock.  It was quiet in the house, no pounding of little boy feet, no war cries from Narnia.

That night was foreshadowing.

As phases go, another is coming.  In ten to fifteen years, we’ll watch our children transition.  The quiet house will return more permanently and maybe we’ll spend long nights on the couch listening to Ben Harper and the Boss.  We’ll fumble through being alone again; I bet you’ll giggle a lot.  And maybe we’ll look back on the tedium of raising children with fondness; we’ll think that these were some of the best years of our marriage.

“Remember when we had to sneak sexy into our day,” you’ll say.  “Remember when I wore spaghetti stained sweatshirts and threw you winks over the tops of milk-craving boys.”  “Yes,” I’ll say.  Then you’ll put on your best Alabama smirk and say, “Now THAT was sexy!

I still like you,


**Have you written to your spouse in a while?  There’s no time like the present.

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