Saturday, July 11, 2009

A Letter: So Much More Than Words

When something has affected me, and the life around me, I stew. I analyze. I judge myself and my thinking. And then I want to write a letter.

But to a family member? A friend, to explain my feelings and make sure unspoken thoughts are clear? I hold back. Because aren't we generally expected to talk it out? Isn't it considered a lame attempt, a way of backing down, if we succumb to the written word, which, without inflection, with no tone or ambience in mood, can be misinpreted?

I say, "No more." I'm tired of holding out, of denying myself one of the barest means of communication.

Writing is what I'm good at. If I can't sit with the best of intentions and form an amazing letter, one that says what I need it to say, then I'm not worth the title of writer.

So I'm promising myself: If I have issue with someone, when I have something I need to get off my chest, and it's crucial to the life I'm living, I'll write a letter. I'll pour my heart into the document. I'll cuss and I'll be snarky; I'll delete and re-write. I'll edit and make it pretty. I'll be tactful, humble, so as not to cause strife. I'll be clear. I'll be wise and I'll form beauty with my words.

Because I'm a writer, and that's what I do.

24 comments:

Joanne said...

I have a feeling that your written letters would be beautifully filled with tone, ambience and inflection. As someone who loves her craft, it seems that those qualities would shape your words.

Terri Tiffany said...

I agree with Joanne--Your letters would be the kind that are ok to get--the sting would be light but the point well-given.
I'm sorry to say, I'm not as confrontational as I used to be--even through letters. I tend to just give up on some people even though I know I shouldn't.

Melanie Avila said...

I love writing letters. I couldn't tell you the last time I wrote one with pen and paper, but I do like to take the time to write thorough emails from time to time.

I just posted on a link at AW where someone posted a lovely card he received, and I said that's one to save. I realize you're talking about when you need to save possibly not nice things, but I like letters because of the fact that you can edit them. You aren't blurting something out that you might later regret -- you can craft it to say precisely what you want. Then the receiver can reread it until they fully understand.

Janna Qualman said...

Joanne - I truly hope so, and I appreciate your impression, very much.

Terri - I'm definitely not one for conflict or confrontation, but I am learning how to stand up for myself. As long as you don't lose that, friend.

Melanie - Precisely. With letters, even in e-mail, one is allowed to get it all out. No interruptions, no loss of thought, and put everything together in an important, well-crafted package.

scarlethue said...

I do that too, write letters when something has really affected me. My husband knows he's either in big trouble or he's done something really sweet if he's got a card on his windshield in the morning. Sometimes I write it out and never send it or think about it again, sometimes I'll write it and practically memorize it to tell to the person. But I have to get my thoughts on paper. For some reason I just can't get them out in the right order otherwise.

Angie Ledbetter said...

Amen, sistuh!

Janna Qualman said...

scarlethue - Sometimes that happens to me: I write a letter out, it's therapy, and I don't have to send it.

Angie - *high five*

JKB said...

I agree with you - actually, I think handwritten letters are wonderful.

I save every one I get, and they are just so...fitting. I love them.

Excellent post! I agree and will try to do myself!

Nadine said...

What a wonderful idea! I think I will start doing stuff as I find myself still holding on things that I really need to get over.

Thanks Janna!

Janet said...

Actually, I've often heard that writing letters is a great way of working out conflicts. You can stop and reconsider your words, put it aside till the emotions have died down to prevent yourself from making things worse. I've sent my husband a letter or two over the years. And I've deleted quite a few more.

Lady Glamis said...

I always fall back on writing to resolve issues - even with my husband. So I understand exactly what you're saying! Keep at it!

Lori said...

I used to write lots of letters to express too big emotions, but I have stopped doing that. I don't even know when. It used to work, though. I am always very diplomatic, to the point and very convincing in writing.

Jessica said...

I've heard letters are actually one of the best ways to confront something and to discuss conflict. Beautiful post Janna! :-)

Janna Qualman said...

JKB - Letter writing is a lost art, don't you think?

Nadine - I promise it will help!

Janet - Ditto. That was the first way I learned how to really tell my then-new husband how I was feeling about stuff.

Lady - Are they well-received? Mine have been, so far. :)

Lori - "Diplomatic" is an excellent word to use in regards to letter-writing - especially when you're talking about issues and such.

Thanks, Jessica!

JLC said...

I do that too. Writing gets the same job done but without all the shouting and emotional outbursts.

Kathy said...

You go, girl!

I express myself best in writing, too.

Janna Qualman said...

JLC - And that's big for me. ;)

Kathy - You said it.

scarlethue said...

Potassium? Interesting... I may have to look into that. I got one last night. I get the "monthly" ones, totally hormone related, but the weird random ones throw me off.

Friend request sent, by the way. :)

Melissa Marsh said...

AMEN.

I have written letters just like that - I'm not good at verbal confrontation with people. I communicate much better with the written word.

Janna Qualman said...

Melissa - I can identify completely. :)

Woman in a Window said...

Funny, I don't do this. I don't want anything incriminating for someone to hold onto.

Janna Qualman said...

Woman - You're the oddball! :)

Deb Shucka said...

Sometimes it's the writing of the letter, without sending it, that starts the healing process.

Janna Qualman said...

Deb - It's absolutely true. It can be such a catharsis.