A Letter to Letters

Dear Letters,

It’s writing Wednesday, and I used to write you on Wednesdays every week. I tried to be philosophical, funny, factual, or just plain foolish.

Do you think I should bring you back as a regular feature? You know, maybe between writing advice posts?

Oh, my phone’s ringing.

“Hello, this is Hyacinth, who’s calling?”

“It’s Writing Advice. I heard you talking to Letters and I think you should keep both of us on Wednesdays.”

“Thanks. I agree with you. Have a nice day.”

“Do you want some advice?”

“Oh, sure.”

“You know that draft of that later book in your detective series that you’re working on?”

“Yes, what about it?”

“Don’t count your chickens before they hatch. To say that in a less clichéd and more accurate way, don’t write later books before you remove all the unnecessary adverbs and superfluous names from your earlier ones. Nobody wants to read that book the way you’ve written it.”

“Hey, you used to be kind of friendly and a little more helpful. What’s with the adverserial attitude?”

“I was so surprised at how bad it was, I just couldn’t pull my punches as I usually do. You know, you’ve given your Readers the same advice I’m giving you, but if you don’t do as you say, you look like a pretty bad writing advice giver.”

“Come on, that can’t really be the reason. You were really nice to me after I wrote that post about being patient with writing so the story can unfold.”

“Yes, that’s true, but that draft you’ve been reading over just makes me want to cry. You broke almost every writing guideline and you know it.”

“But it’s just a draft. It’s a draft of a later book in the series.”

“Yes, I know. Now your Readers know I’m nice to them when I help you write writing advice, but I’m going to be harder on you than I ever have been before. You know what else?”

“I’m afraid to ask.”

“Letters, would you like to tell her?”

“Okay. From now on, we’re going to write back. We’re not going to be passive little creatures of your creation, but we’re going to stick up for ourselves and for our stories. Remember this, Hyacinth. You owe your characters a fair telling. They can’t speak for themselves, and they have entrusted you with their worlds, their lives, or, as the case may be, their deaths.”

Well, that’s me told, huh? I’m starting to feel like I’m just a story. But then again, if I were a story, I’d want to be shown, not told.

But Letters, you and Writing Advice do have a point. I haven’t been sticking to my own process lately. All the voices in that draft sound like how I used to make all the characters identical. It’s not regression, just a case of the hands not being able to keep up with the brain. When I revise it, I promise I’ll bring them to life. I haven’t lost touch with their world, and I haven’t lost my love for you or them, but 2020 has run me down a little bit.

Okay, I won’t lie; 2020 has run me down a lot.

I will buckle down and revise, I promise no more pesky adverbs, and I will make Wednesday both a day of writing, and a day of letters, but I don’t have the schedule figured out yet.

Yours truly,

Hyacinth Grey



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