Tuesday, December 06, 2005

The Write Stuff

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I've never really had a problem with words. Yes, I've been shy -- and couldn't speak up -- but give me a piece of paper or a computer screen and let me at it. If I'm writing a letter, the words will tumble out, sometimes not fast enough. It's like I'm unwinding a spool of thread and seeing how far it'll take me.

You're probably like me -- finding it easier to transfer your thoughts onto paper than in person. Of course, you don't have to watch for facial expressions and body language when you write a note to someone. The physical distance that paper or screen allows adds a sense of ease when you try to get the words out. At least it does for me.

I was always a notorious letter writer, and like many of my blogs, my letters were detailed. People embraced those details, rather than roll their eyes and toss the letter aside. And when I couldn't keep up with lengthy letters, my regular recipients were most disappointed. Yes, letter writing has always come easy, yet, like keeping a journal or a blog, it becomes almost like a chore because you know that, although the words come easy, you still use your editing thought processes to work through your words, adding qualitative and quantitative time to the equation. And time is something you don't always have.

I thoroughly enjoy writing thank-you notes to people, and I guess it shows. When I wrote the handfuls of thank-you notes, after my engagement party, shower and wedding, I looked forward to doing so. I knew that a part of me would go into each note, my personal touch would be imprinted in each card; I wasn't writing a form-letter-style note; I was personalizing each one. Add that up for every simcha, and it takes a toll.

And with three children and countless bris and baby gifts, the thank-you notes were also countless. But once again, I made each word I wrote count; my words captured the gift and the person who gave it.

I've had family friends and my own friends come up to me YEARS LATER after they received a particular thank-you or all-occasion card or birthday card or a simple letter, and tell me that they still had such-and-such a card among their things because it was so special.

Knowing that makes me very happy indeed. Knowing that I put a smile on someone's lips...a smile that lingers long after the person initially read the card...pleases me to no end.

Sadly enough, I've had to write several condolence cards in the latter years. And just like I do with simcha cards, I personalize each card, telling the recipient what it was about that person that touched me and my life, even if I didn't know the person all that well. Sure, I can phone in a donation to some organization or good cause, and have them send out a sympathy card with a brief message from me, and I often do that, but I'd much rather write a note from the heart.

When I felt moved to write to the parents of a former classmate who passed away at the age of 27, I talked about the memories I had of her from when we were little. I even dug up a yearbook our class had made when we were in grade 4 and sent the parents a couple of pages that their daughter had designed, as well as the "My Impressions" page that someone had written then about their nine-year-old daughter.

Some years ago I designed an ad for myself that I considered running in the local Jewish newspaper: I was planning to call my business (even back then!) "Pearlies of Wisdom" and I was going to advertise speech writing and writing, specifically letter writing. For some people, letter writing is such a chore and something to avoid; for me, it's a pleasure, so I thought why not let some people take advantage of this opportunity. Unfortunately, I never went ahead with the ad because I had no clue what kind of rates I should charge for such services.

But if any of you have a business letter to write, a "Dear John" letter to compose, a wedding speech to come up with, a tribute to someone on a special anniversary or birthday, consider me and my Pearlies of Wisdom, 'cause I think I've got THE WRITE STUFF!


cruisin-mom said...

Pearl...we had candlelighting ceremonies for my son's bar mitzvah's, which I wrote myself. I later found out that this is a difficult task for many, and there are people who will write them for you, for a fee of course. If you google bar mitzvah candlelighting, you will see how many businesses pop up. I think you could fulfill a great need.

MC Aryeh said...

I can relate! I have written or at least edited countless cards, letters, speeches, admissions essays, etc. for friends and relatives, and take great care in writing thank you notes. I don't think I would get so much enjoyment from making that into a business, though...

P.S. I like the new logo, Pearl!

Air Time said...

I used to write long letters, but I always hated writing thank you cards.

Anne said...

I bet if you asked around your shul or your circle of family and friends, you'd get a lot of support and maybe a few word-of-mouth referrals.

Unfortunately, us writers tend to be shy, bookish types -- bad at marketing ourselves! I wish you the best of luck in your new line of work. Freelancing is fun, if low-paying, but you get to pick and choose assignments, set your own hours and be your own boss. Well worth it!

Lance said...


That is some word processor you have...

and the hair do....very retro ;)