Letters for your Valentine

Valentine's Day

Words are the best gift for Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day – the most romantic day of the year.

Valentine’s Day – a day of heartbreak.

Valentine’s Day – another excuse for shameless commercialism.

Whatever your view of 14 February, there’s no denying that – even in the coldest of hearts – some stirrings of longing and affection stir. This is especially true for us writers – those of us that try to pin emotions down with the tips of our pens. Well, my dear sentimentalists and romantics, write on. Let the ink that pumps through your heart leak onto the page.

But if the words do not flow, or fear stays your pen, here is some advice and inspiration for you.

Inspiration: Romantic Letters

Writing a romantic letter might be cliché. In fact, what’s a letter? Right, it’s a dying art. This is nothing but a shame.

Some of the greatest literary minds have enclosed their feelings in correspondence. Letters that have been lucky enough to make it into posterity give us a special insight: these aren’t meant for an audience. Here a letter is an intimate gift – one soul writing to another.

There are many such letters. From Hemingway telling Marlene Dietrich that “it felt like home” each time they embraced, to Beethoven’s mysterious “Immortal Beloved” who he wrote to on his deathbed (not that women don’t write lovelorn letters).

You said that things seemed clearer when they are written down,” writes Gerald Durrell (conservationalist and author) in a letter to Lee McGeorge (fellow natural scientist and his future wife). This is – perhaps – my most favourite romantic letter. In it, Durrell describes the wonders of nature he has witnessed on his adventures – from hummingbirds “flashing like opals” to whales “creating a Versailles of fountains with their breath”. It is something of a love letter to nature itself, but the kicker is the end of it:

All this I did without you. This was my loss. All this I want to do with you. This will be my gain.” If that doesn’t tug on your heartstrings, nothing will. It is worth reading the entire letter, trust me.

What about Me?

Okay, so, you’re not a poet, an award-winning author, or a half-deaf musical genius. But you still have a hankering to express what you feel, right? What if I told you that you had the answer all along:

Passion.

That horrible, urgent, nervous need to express what you feel. That is what you put on the page. It doesn’t have to rhyme or conjure the grandeur of nature. It just has to be true.

Truth can be frightening – especially if you don’t know how the object of your affections will react. In the words of Peter McWilliams: “It is a risk to love. What if it doesn’t work out? Ah, but what if it does?”

It’s the same risk writers face when they put a story to the page. It might not work out, but the only way you’ll find out is to take that risk.

Your Letters

So, how about it? Going to give it a go? Let me know in the comments below. Also, if you know of any letters or poems that are particularly romantic, let me know below or hit me up on twitter @CalliopeWriter.

Top Image: Pygmalion by Jean-Léon Gérôme [Public domain]

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