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Unsent Letter

May 11, 2009

… I finally wrote your song,another unsent letter
In a pile addressed to you, c-/ of somethin’, somewhere better

~Machine Gun Fellatio’s Unsent Letter

In the past few weeks I’ve been struggling to find time to write any fiction – let alone getting to Fiction Friday. I always feel I’m mining my soul and slowly killing off my creativity when it’s a been a long time between fictional drinks.  As a consequence I’ve been searching out short and sweet methods of writing to get a daily fiction fix.

While checking out the writing site Language is a Virus for the first time and test driving the random Prompt Generator I hit a prompt that sent me straight back to being 15.

The prompt was:

Choose a period of time, perhaps five or nine months. Every day, write a letter that will never be sent to a person who does or does not exist, or to a number of people who do or do not exist. Create a title for each letter and don’t send them. Pile them up as a book.

I was a prolific letter writer as a teenager – born from the love of writing, a 4000km divide between my friends and I after we moved when I was 15 and the exorbitant costs in the 80’s of long distance phone calls. It was a habit that took many years to die out and I’m certain I could fill numerous volumes with my old corresondences.  My friends and I still bemoan the lost art and quiet joy of receiving a handwritten letter.

Between the letters I wrote and the journals I kept, my teenager years and early 20’s a rather well (though probably embarrassingly so!) documented. I still have a huge bag full of letters I received over the space of ten or so years and I’m hoping in the next few months to repatriate all those letters to their original authors and receive mine in return.

Not surprisingly, my interest was immediately piqued by the Language is a Virus random writing prompt! A means to writing something fictionally expedient but creatively satisfying.

So, I’ve decided to write a fictional letter to fictional others for 21 days – remembering letters do not have to be the 50+ A4 page tome, as they were in the eighties.  I’ll be posting them up – short and sweet – on my blog. I have no idea who will speak through me yet – I’m going to surrender to the Universe, even though I can already think of a dozen characters I’d like to correspond as and with!

I’d never considered utilising letter writing as a way to explore characters, new, old or waiting to bust through from the other side. Or in my case – as a means to an end in keeping the creative spark alive and well in busy times.

Who is with me? You can read the first of my letters entitled Dear John.

Jodi Cleghorn is glad of her ability to gestate this column at the 11th hour, while cooking dinner, bathing her son and attempting to remain sane in the domestic maelstrom. A belated to Mothers Day to all the writers and mothers who frequent here. You can find more of Jodi’s musings Writing With Passionate Abandon.
  1. May 11, 2009 4:33 am

    I love this idea! I also miss the quite receiving of handwritten letters. Sometimes I’m inspired to write to a friend, the old fashioned way. They usually love the curiosity…at least the younger ones!

    Who would I write to? I can think of a few…

    Thanks for the idea!

  2. May 11, 2009 4:44 am

    This sounds exciting!

    I’ll be checking your blog to have a look.

  3. May 11, 2009 5:17 am

    I have written two of my Friday Fiction pieces in a sort of letter writing style – as postcards – and found it a very effective way of exploring characters.
    great idea Jodi

    here are links to the two of mine from past Friday Fiction you mentioned


  4. May 11, 2009 5:27 am

    I meant to mention your two post card stories Annie but time got the better of me. I’d pimp your stories here (because they are two of my favs) but I can’t find them on your blog? Tried both mythological chiclit and realism? Brownie points for floundering in the catalogue?

    I had better go and consult the almight bridge master and see who is going to be let across the creative void … mawhahahha!

  5. May 11, 2009 5:32 am

    love it! I may join you in that Jodi… Have you read Thomas Moore’s ‘Soul Mates’ – he writes about the intimacy of letters – not just between lovers but between other kinds of soul mates – friends & family. Letter writing is a wonderful soul-making activity.

    I love James Hillman’s urge toward writing letters to our selves – to the parts of ourselves that speak to us through symptom and Fate. What does a dream mean? Write a letter to our dream-image and ask – what do you want? Write back again. I’ve written to headaches, sore throats, and to mysterious characters that show up in life and in dreams. I always get a reply *wink*


  6. May 11, 2009 5:48 am

    And Thomas Moore raises his head again. Care of the Soul is a special order through Borders. I’ve already written my first letter and had a “where the hell did you come from moment?” but going to surrender … and see where the next 21 days takes me. Might have to schedule a few considering I’ll be in New Zealand for at least three of those 21 days!

    And please join in. I love your prose Dan.

  7. May 11, 2009 7:07 am

    I think this is a great idea! I’m not sure if I can swing the full twenty-one days (in a row), but I have written approximately nothing in a month so even if I only write one letter, that’s better than I’ve been doing. I’ve been busy with life and work… but when I do sit down to write… I’ve had nothing. Maybe this is a good way to kickstart things. Good luck!

  8. May 11, 2009 4:12 pm

    I hope so Rob. I’ve been in the same boat as you and need something – however small and fictional, to keep me going. I’m not sure if I will make the 21 days – even seven in a row would be a good committment from me. Looking forward to reading your letters.

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