If I ever approach you with unsolicited advice on stocks, winning lottery numbers, sure-fire shot savers for golf, or how to correct flaws I’ve seen in your personal life, politely excuse yourself and turn the other way. And run. Fast. I live in a glass house and the panes are paper thin, if you get my drift.
As a rule, I am loathe to give advice. Few seek it; even fewer get it. My two cents aren’t worth that much. Except when it comes to letters. I am a fountain of suggestions. The Fort Knox of (limited) knowledge. If you haven’t perceived that I am a shill when comes to the written page, then I haven’t been nearly loud enough. If you ask, the answer might be: ‘how much time do you have?’
As trite, over-hyped and way-way-way overused as it sounds, Nike’s admonition to ‘Just do it’ rings true on the subject of letters. If you never start a page, you will never do it. But as with most things, small steps are a good solution. Find that one person where re-connection is overdue, dormant or the relationship is not entirely severed. Start with them. Have a list of what you want to say or what you perceive they want to hear. Commit to 200-300 words (roughly three to four medium length paragraphs). Surprise yourself by how quickly you find your creative frame of mind and how smoothly it comes together. And trust me, my counsel is that you will be amazed at how fast you adapt to this mode of expression. People have asked ‘how do you keep going?’ on letters. After a near decade of practice, it just does. Thus, my advice will rain on these pages with some frequency.
Enough pandering. Here is last week’s letter to Ellen and Reid (minus a few very personal paragraphs).
March 22, 2010
Ellen/Reid: The past week has been a mixed bag as far as events and emotions are concerned. We had a very nice Saturday in the mid 70s which hopefully is a harbinger of better weather ahead. We won’t delve into my golf game both days. Let’s just say my swing has collapsed like a house of cards and leave it at that.
There was a very sad story about a young guy from Atlanta who was jogging on the beach at Hilton Head while listening to his iPod. Tragically, he didn’t hear a light plane making an emergency landing on the shoreline. He was struck from behind and killed instantly. He never heard the plane, which was gliding without engine power. Ironically, it was the very stretch of beach near the timeshare where you strolled and rode bikes.
The moulding is not yet finished in the bath. The trees which provide the wood are apparently still in sapling stage. Heaven forbid we would move forward and get the job actually done. The blame lays entirely on me. The scale did make the move to the new bath, and its first order of business was to bark at me when I stepped on it. I could feel it compress when the first heavy steps were made. It is a sign of a dietary apocalypse.
In further proof that your dad’s light is dimming a bit, I’ve taken it upon myself to remove nails and screws from the roadway that I espy on my weekend walks. It makes me think I am saving some poor soul the travail and utter inconvenience of a flat tire. Who knows how many punctures have been averted. None, probably. But I do look out for the thin hazards. I am losing it.
EP, you will be aghast that the local county has decided to close half of the 24 branch libraries in town for budget reasons. A few hundred people will be shown the door, too. How is it that we reach this stage whereby the bastions of literacy are to close their doors? We can fund all manner of other niceties but the one place where people go to read and research in peace is no longer worthy of our tax dollars. I don’t get it. I’ve gone to my nearby branch repeatedly and it’s always full of people who need books or Internet access or just a place of solitude.
My class in pleasure writing has been accepted at the local community college. It doesn’t kick off until the fall semester but I am really excited, and a tad nervous, about it. The guise of writing is cloaked under the heading of Writing for Blogs but much of it will be how to write and organize your writing. It’s very much an elective for people who are largely out of school; adults who want to expand their creative sides, seniors, and others. Of course, the blog about you two bumpkins will be the main focus of whatever it is I teach for two hours a night for six weeks. Considering how you two never listened to me preach at you, how can I expect students to put up with me, too?