Friday Fodder: My Obsession with Letters & Journals

If you’ve been following my blog for a while, first, THANK YOU. Second, you may have read previous posts about writing letters and letter writing, because I’m obsessed with the notion of letter writing. And, you’ve probably also read many posts here about keeping a journal, most recently the one I wrote about keeping a journal during a pandemic.

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I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: Are you going to print out a text feed or email chain and save it in your memory box? The likelihood of that is slim to none.

The Letters in the Books…coming in June.

The lost art of letter writing is truly a loss of records. When someone takes the time to write a letter or a love note, it’s so much more meaningful. You know that the person has taken the time to do this…taken time to put their thoughts on paper for you. Likewise, keeping account of your family’s history in a journal is an important thing to do. Write down all you can about your family so that you can pass it down from generation to generation. Interview your living relatives and record it. It’s not wasted time.

We wouldn’t have the historical records we have today if people had not put their feelings, emotions, and happenings of the day down on paper. It’s an incredibly romantic gesture to pen a letter. It’s also a keepsake.

I have a several letters that I’ve kept over the years that mean a lot to me. Among them include a letter from my father’s Aunt Mil, who wrote to me after we vacationed together one summer; a letter from an ice skater I liked and admired as a kid; a letter from a ballplayer who was in the minor leagues in Peoria who kindly took me to a sorority formal when I needed a date; letters from my husband when we were first dating; and letters from people who wrote to me after I helped them with something when I worked in community relations at the Orioles. I treasure all of these letters.

When I was younger, I took ice skating lessons, and we got to see Vern Taylor skate in person. I left him a note, and he wrote me back. I kinda still love that he did that for a young fan. As someone who worked in sports for a while, it’s pretty impressive when an athlete pens his own letter to a fan.

This obsession has made its way into many of my novels. In Beneath the Mimosa Tree, Annabelle finds a letter Michael had written to her from London but never mailed; in Baseball Girl, Frankie keeps a journal that we hear excerpts of throughout the novel of her time with her late father; in Inn Significant, Milly finds a journal that belonged to her late grandmother where a secret had been kept; in Little Milestones letters find their way to Nan; in Anna in Tuscany, her mother writes her a funny letter from America while she’s in Italy finding her footing; and in my upcoming novel The Letters in the Books, empath and bookstore owner Meg Ellis slips letters to customers who need to hear inspiring words inside their purchased books.

Just as inspirational quotes have the power to lift us up, so do sentimental and meaningful letters. I enjoy writing books with letters and journals as a part of the story, primarily because letters and journals can give us further glimpses into character motivations and backstory.

You may want to keep a journal to record your own story that will someday provide a backstory into your life; as well, letters as keepsakes are a great way to record history, share sentiments, offer love to the unloved, or express a love to someone you care deeply for.

Writing things down still matters, even in this extremely digitized world.

2 Comments

  • Sherry Grant

    Stephanie,
    A woman after my own heart! I too love epistolary writing! It is definitely a lost art. I love books written in the form of letter exchanges also, and hope to write one using this style one day. I did a long literature review and research into epistolary writing in my Fall 2021 class based on what we were studying. It was fascinating! There are only a few books that use epistolary writing as a focus, so when you use it, it makes your books unique. I definitely can’t wait to read, The Letters in the Books! It sounds intriguing.

  • Stephanie Verni

    Thank you, Sherry! I love, love, love stories about letters. A few years ago, I read “The Last Letter from Your Lover” by Jojo Moyes. My husband and I just watched the movie the other night. It’s always so intriguing to see what people are willing to put down on paper in a letter. In my novel, Meg’s letters serve as “pick me ups” for customers, but what she doesn’t realize is how those letter affect people.

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