WriteSpa #23 – Love Letters

WriteSpa – An Oasis for Writers

Many great writers were inspired by a real-life muse (like Dante’s Beatrice – who didn’t have a clue) or even a fantasy (Keats was crazy about a prostitute, who also didn’t have a clue). But the fact that they hardly knew each other did not make their love any less poignant, rich, and inspiring.

Elizabeth Barrett and Robert Browning – famously the most romantic couple ever to fall madly in love before they met – used poetry and letters to get to know each other. One wonders what their emotions were like when they first set eyes on each other after having written letters and poems like the ones they did! Was there worry? Curiosity? Disappointment? Or was there really just sheer bliss and joy and an immediate determination to run away together?

Romantic letters are amazing in so many ways. They are a way to be direct, intimate, and they last a very long time. Sure, the words that someone has spoken might stay in your memory for a while, and you might re-read them over in your mind, but it’s not the same as having them on paper, or saved in your computer’s ‘letters’ folder: something tangible, that you can hold and see. Also, you can write in a letter words that you can’t say face to face, say things that might feel too embarrassing, or you’re anxious about the other person’s reaction, or you’re too shy.

A letter is a way to get to the heart of your longing. Ultimately, neither looks, nor goodness, nor wealth, nor destiny is what makes us fall in love. It’s something else entirely – and completely mysterious.

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Fun Writing Practice

We’re taught in basic marketing and promotion courses that ‘you’ is the most important word. You simply can’t use it often enough. This is because the most important person in your life is you. The funny thing about romantic love, and why it can sink us to such despair, is that we think the happiness it supposedly brings us is contingent on someone else. We long for that ‘you’ – I love you

Well, here is a different approach: Write a love letter to yourself. Dig deep into the inner recesses of your soul and write out all the wonderful, magical, enticing, and beautiful things about you.  You can include seemingly small details (like the shape of your eyelid or the inside of your elbow), but always remember that it’s not the parts that make a whole person. The whole person is made up of parts.

Have fun with this letter. Feel safe – no one will tease or scorn your effusiveness. Say much, much more than you ever would to someone else. Did you do a good deed that you told no one about? Do you love the way you sing a lullaby to your children? What about your humor, your kindness, even your silliness? This is not a moment for any sort of self-deprecation: imagine how hurt a lover would be if you were at all critical in a love letter! Ugh – don’t do it! Treat yourself as tenderly and passionately as you would someone you were absolutely crazy about. You can even draw on this letter, decorate it, attach a photograph, a painting, or a piece of music. Sprinkle it with essential oil of rosewood. Share what you love about yourself with you. Most importantly, tell yourself “I love you.”

Help me to believe the truth about myself – no matter how beautiful. M. Wiederkehr

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Daily Happinesses

  • the island of Delos
  • being asked for a favor
  • the sun on your closed eyelids
  • an old friend from high school
  • sweeping

2 thoughts on “WriteSpa #23 – Love Letters

  • This is fabulous!! I wish I had read this before Valentine’s Day . . . this makes for a perfect Valentine’s Day assignment for my students. As an English teacher and as an occasional personal writer, I enjoy your blog very much! Thank you!

  • Dear GradingGirl, I meant to have this up before the Valentine’s weekend – but the idea for the writing practice only came to me yesterday! I didn’t want to offer something too cliched. Next year I’ll try to remember to post something similar in the month, because you’re right – I think teens especially could benefit. Thank you for your kind words. W

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