Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Letters from Inside the Story

Have one character in a story you're working on write a letter to another character in the same story. The character writing the letter will not send it. Therefore this letter writer can say a great deal more, without restraints or censorship (from above or from within). You should also think of this as a piece of writing that will not go into what you're writing—just deep background material (even if this turns out to be a useful lie).
(from prompt #39 in The 3AM Epiphany)

Read my response: 

"THANK YOU" by psd

Hey. I want to say thanks, but I'm not good at that. When people compliment me, I don't know, I get weird. If I feel like things are going well, when someone demonstrates appreciation, I get nervous about maintaining that. My biggest fear, my Achille's heel, is disappointing people, I guess if you know that than you know me. I use disclaimers a lot. This is going to sound weird. I know it's not a big deal. It's about confidence, not walking into a room confidence, but staying in a room confidence. Ruin terrifies me, destruction from the inside out: like the fall of Rome.

I haven't said thanks. Thank you. Thank you for being unabashed. The things you say, the comments you make, they boost me up and they make me feel like I'm doing something right. I'm trying to force this idea on myself, the idea that it is okay. Okay as it is, as I am: that I can be open, and myself, and if people like what I'm not hiding, I don't need to hide.
See, this is becoming about me, it is about me.

You make music. People who make music, I’m jealous of that. I hear songs in my head, and I don’t know how to translate that into ways that other people can hear too. Words do a lot, what I like about music is the words, mostly, but its not all the way. Its not enough to carry and land where I want. I wonder what its like, I think it must be like knowing another language, or having another sense. I’m fine, I’m complete, but still it must be like not being able to hear, the way that I lack an ability to produce music from myself. So you, how you make music, its like you have a sixth sense, you have another way to communicate.

Music and travel, things I don’t have any experience with, but I feel it all the same. The idea of these experiences—does this make sense? I’m sure it doesn’t, fuck, sorry, I want it to, I want to say it right—the idea of experiencing something outside yourself, of connecting in a new way, beyond the limits of body or space, that isn’t alien to me. It’s a feeling like a word on the tip of my tongue, I can sound it out, and there is a space, just beyond, that is waiting to be filled. By the experience, or the word.

It’s frustrating. I feel guilty all the time for all that I haven’t done. I feel most alive when I’m outside myself, it keeps me believing in God. The feeling alive. And I feel outside myself when I can connect. I think that’s what we are all looking for, or at least all of us like us. People who push and fall and look at things the wrong way so that they know what the right way really means. Do you know what I mean? And its things like that, words that I’ve got space for, and I haven’t found them yet. I feel bad about that space, that I’m keeping it all inside myself and I should be reaching out more.

I think sometimes people look at me and they see all that I’m keeping inside, and they know. They know I’m selfish and I’m scared. And sometimes I think no one has any idea, that they see me and they don’t, and if I get it all out I will scare the hell out of them. I think maybe I should hold back, try to fit in, try to be good. It’s knowing what good is, really.

This is the worst thank you letter ever. I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I do want to thank you. For making music and for writing and for trying to connect, for always doing what I wish I could do. And for telling me that I’m doing the same, that I’m connecting.

I was thinking about something you said, and I was listening to a song, and it felt a little bit epic.

Thank you, from inside myself and as far out as I can reach, thank you for reading from the same place that I’m trying to reach.

If that makes any sense, if you know what I mean, if this isn’t all dumb. Then you’ll know. Thank you.


  1. This was a really funny character study. It kinda scares me that a lot of the things I write to people read off like this. I'm sorry!

  2. Funny, I wrote the same thank-you for one of my wedding presents.

  3. I basically just doctored up a "Thank you letter" template from MS Word, we must have used the same one.

    I'm glad its funny. It was mostly supposed to be funny. Not all the way, but mostly.


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