Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The Art of the Love Letter

Recently, I've been pouring my heart into love letters.
To myself.
Well that sounds pretty lame,
so let me clarify. 

These are letters to someone,
I'm just using myself as the forwarding address.
For now,
I think they are serving me better.
I need to alleviate the longing,
the consuming ache, the hurt-
It's almost as if by getting the words down on paper,
I'm exiling the feelings associated with them.
Some of these love letters are eloquent and full of passion,
some are downright sad.
I don't judge them one way or the other,
I just write.
I let the words ooze out,
I just let them flow.
When you are pouring your heart out
and writing about a situation 
you have no control over
and very little say in-
it feels good to have control 
of the pen.
You write what I say!
So all this writing,
(which seems to be a positive outlet for me
(and for you- I take it, if you're reading this)
got me thinking about the
 Art of the Love Letter.

There is an art to them,
and lovers of all kinds have been writing 
them for centuries.
Read on for more context and history!
What makes love letters so special?

They are tangible and personal, 
for the real hold-in-your-hand proof 
that what you say is what you mean.
We are looking for words that endure, that are authentic
and worthy of being committed to paper
 in a moment that cannot be shut off or be erased.
You sometimes think back -
did I imagine that look in his eyes?
Did I misread the situation?
Did I dream him up?

But the written word, that's forever.
Men are not off the hook.
As the Art of Manliness puts it:

"Love letters have special properties that no
 modern form of communication 
can duplicate. 
It's something tangible
 that we can touch
and hold and then pass to 
another to touch and hold. 
They are preserved and cherished
 in a way that text messages
or email never will be.
The love letters you give are testaments 
to the history of your love -
a record of your relationship 
that she'll hold onto for the rest of her life
(unless of course you break her heart 
and then the letters will give 
her the satisfaction of having 
something to burn
or line the bird cage with).
Gentleman, if you need a refresher lesson
on the art of love letters, I suggest you peruse this 
male-friendly guide:

So how do you write one?

Well, I'm no expert to be sure, but here
are some things to think about...

Letters to Juliet, the movie

How to Write a Love Letter:

  1. Message: What do you want to convey? Decide if it's love, appreciation, or some other emotion you want to express. Letters don't always have to be mushy - passion comes wrapped in other emotions as well. While I don't condone writing that will sabotage, sometimes I write to {for} myself. You can seal it, and never send it. Perhaps wait for the perfect opportunity to give it to your significant other. Or go all "Message in a Bottle" on it - put it in a glass bottle and send it out to sea. Just make sure if you do it at one of the local Babylon beaches, you sign it 'Anonymous'. Who the heck knows who may stumble upon it this summer. Lets not air out our dirty laundry, shall we?! NOT sexy. :)
  2. Rough Draft: I don't want to get all writer pro on you since this is supposed to be as organic an experience as possible, but you might want to either jot down some bullet points of the topics you plan to cover or go with a rough draft. Writing a lover letter is poetic. Not in form, but in style. While you want to write from the heart, you want to paint a picture with your words. Write eloquently, use colorful language, let the words dance on the page. If something doesn't flow or sound right, that's okay. Rework it until you get it just right. This love letter is as much for you as it is for the recipient. Make it something you're proud to deliver or send off in a bottle. Who knows who may one day discover it...hell-o, Letters to Juliet anyone?
  3. Beautiful Stationary: Sometimes delivery is everything. Spend some money and invest in stationary you feel like portrays the message of your love letter. I like this one  and this one from Etsy but they are my style. 

 Find beautiful paper you love to really knock your love letter out of the park. If you want an old-fashioned vintage feel or for the more budget-conscious writer, computer paper soaked in coffee rinds or tea,then laid out to dry (before writing the letter) will do the trick! Some even like to burn the edges  [but for goodness sakes, please don't burn your house down!] Somehow a post-it note, plain computer paper, or lined notebook pad just wouldn't do it justice.  For the final finishing touch, I like to lightly spritz my love letter in my favorite perfume.  Do this from far enough away you don't stain your lovely letter.   

4. Style: Again, this is not an English lesson but there is a certain style and form letters take and we don't want to reinvent the wheel now.  I would like to reiterate the fact this love letter is a written artifact - which means it has staying power. I don't care if you have the worst handwriting in the world - a love letter should be handwritten, which shows the time and effort that went into it. You don't have to look up how to write a "z" in cursive (that's not fair, Rizzuto's not a word, he's a baseball player! Billy Madison, anyone?)  but simply write neat and legibly. If your handwriting is  the pits, then write s-l-o-w-l-y. You don't need to write in calligraphy or cursive or get super fancy, but in my [humble] opinion, handwritten = heartfelt. You also want to follow the typical greeting format: Dear __________ and sign off with a Sincerely, __________  or Love, ___________ or Yours Truly, ___________ OR (get fancy) Your Beloved, _____________ (fine, you think its lame - don't use it!) Just a suggestion... ;)

5. Seal It {With Love}: Again, there is no right way or wrong way to do this, as long as it's from the heart it will be received well. However, we've come this far...lets close this love letter RIGHT. I recommend either sealing your love letter in a matching envelope (you bought nice stationary, don't skimp on the envelope). Buy either a matching set or find a decorative one you're happy to enclose your letter in. If you choose to go with the Message in a Bottle format, you can find beautiful (cheap) bottles to seal your letter in at Marshalls or Michaels (I'm talking less than $2-3). Throw that bottle off the dock and sayonara! If you choose the letter route, seal it in an envelope of your choice, use a decorative stamp, and mail it. If you are hand delivering it to the person or leaving it for them to find (good choice!), I might suggest the old-fashioned wax stamp. You can buy a stamp at Michaels (you'll have a field day in that section) maybe a heart or initial letter, drip some hot wax on the backside of the envelope, and press your stamp in to seal it with love.

Good luck -
I wish you luck in love
and many {love} letters in your {near} future [!]


1 comment:

  1. What do I think?...I think with the age of technology and email and texting we have lost the elegant meaningful words on paper of the Mr. Darcy age. When Uncle Tony and I dated, long distance calls where VERY expensive SOOOO we wrote long, loving, intimate, future sharing and planning letters. Letters on pale colored paper with matching ink, or letters on lined yellow sheets; didn't matter what it was written on, what mattered was the love PROMISED to last till death do us part!..

    I still have those letters (well, most of them, a few were ceremoniously placed in a roaring fire after reading them and drinking a few bottles of wine - we didnt want the kids to see some of them after we died!)

    The remaining letters are lovingly tied with satin ribbon in a box waiting for I dont know what - maybe we will read them again, maybe my kids will read them after we are gone.

    Love on Paper! Pure love on paper. Pure, love and a promise of life together on paper. Means so much more than a text or an email.

    Maybe Im just old fashioned -- Cvg


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