I totally have an ongoing love affair with open letters. I write them, I read them, I find them to be cathartic literary jewels that call out to my eyes for attention - and I give it to them freely.
The first open letter I ever wrote was in the 9th grade. It was an "open letter" to Jean Valjean (from the book, not the musical). I'm not sure why I wrote him a letter, except that it was some kind of English assignment. I remember writing the letter, and then giving it to my dad to read and copy-edit. He's actually the one who added the "open letter" title to my piece. The comment from my teacher with an arrow pointing to the title was, "Oooooh, nice!" As though she were impressed that a 13 year old would know what an open letter was. Too bad I actually didn't know.
But now I do ... and in case any of you are confused about the term, here's the definition:
A published letter on a subject of general interest, addressed to a person but intended for general readership.
One of the first blog posts I ever wrote was an open letter to Canada, where I plead, ask, demand, and attempt to guilt the great country of Canada into giving me a work visa. While this letter did not give me what I was asking for (damn you, Red Maple Leaf!), it did allow me to blow off some steam. Lots and lots of steam. In fact, Canada, your people are very good at writing letters expressing their outrage. I'm really good at writing letters expressing my outrage. Why can't we merge, eh?
I digress. (I digress a lot around here...)
A friend of my Monkey's sent her a link to a website called Timothy McSweeney's - it's a website of "open letters to people or entities who are unlikely to respond." In fact, you can send your open letters to Timothy for publication.
So why am I so emphatically excited?
Matthew Robert Lang
Now. If that didn't make you literally laugh-out-loud at least once, then my sense of humor is so much better than yours.
But a word to the wise: While all of the letters have a cute/funny/sarcastic/humorist vibe - they are not all butterflies and red velvet cupcakes. In fact, two out of the five I read made my eyes tear quite thoroughly. One is an open letter to a man's inoperable brain tumor, and the other is an open letter by a mother to her relatives concerning her child's fits from Asperger's Syndrome. Don't say I didn't warn you.
What I love about these pieces, is that open letters require intelligence and poise, humor and self-deprecation to be pulled off effectively. Most "journalism" or media stories are completely uninteresting to me; stories for the sake of sensationalism and shock value. "Fear this!" "Be angry at this!" "Believe this!" "Worry about this!"
My answer to that: NO. I will not.
I will, however, take great delight, empathy, love, inspiration, and raucous laughter from my fellow human beings; reveling in their triumphs, failures, stories, pleas, observations, and griefs. Because we're all a lot more alike than we'll ever care to admit.
I hope you like them too.
Oh ... and just a little something because I love you: