Scanned image of the page. Keyboard directions: use + to zoom in, - to zoom out, arrow keys to pan inside the viewer.

Page Options

Download this Issue


Something wrong?

Something wrong with this page? Report problem.

Rights / Permissions

This collection, digitized in collaboration with the Michigan Daily and the Board for Student Publications, contains materials that are protected by copyright law. Access to these materials is provided for non-profit educational and research purposes. If you use an item from this collection, it is your responsibility to consider the work's copyright status and obtain any required permission.

September 23, 1987 - Image 44

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1987-09-23

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

How to write
a personal letter


by Garrison Keillor

and every time I do you
make me smile.
We need to write,
otherwise nobody
will know who we
are. They will have
only a vague impres-
sion of us as A Nice
Person, because
frankly, we don't
shine at conversa-
tion, we lack
the confidence to
thrust our faces for-
ward and say, "Hi,
I'm Heather Hooten,
let me tell you about
my week." Mostly we
say "Uh-huh" and
"Oh really." People
smile and look over
e best-selling our shoulder, looking
tell you how for someone else to
you love. talk to.
So a shy person sits down and
writes a letter. To be known by
another person -to meet and talk
freely on the page - to be close
despite distance. To escape from
anonymity and be our own sweet
selves and express the music of
our souls.
Same thing that moves a
giant rock star to sing his
heart out in front of 123,000
people moves us to take ball-
point in hand and write a few d

International Paper asked Garrison Keillor author of th
books, Happy to Be Here and Lake Wobegon Days, to
to write a letter that will bring joy into the life of someon
We shy persons need to write a
letter now and then, or else we'll
dry up and blow away. It's true. And
I speak as one who loves to reach
for the phone, dial the number,
and talk. I say, "Big Bopper here -
what's shakin', babes?" The tele-
phone is to shyness what Hawaii is
to February, it's a way out of the
woods, and yet: a letter is better.
Such a sweet gift
Such a sweet gift - a piece of
handmade writing, in an envelope
that is not a bill, sitting in our
friend's path when she trudges
home from a long day spent among
wahoos and savages, a day our
words will help repair. They don't
need to be immortal, just sincere.
She can read them twice and again
tomorrow: You're someone I care
about, Corinne, and think of often

lines to our dear Aunt Eleanor. We
want to be known. We want her to
know that we have fallen in love,
that we quit our job, that we're
moving to New York, and we want
to say a few things that might not
get said in casual conversation:
thank you for what you've meant to
me, I am very happy right now.
Skip the guilt
The first step in writing letters
is to get over the guilt of not writ-
ing. You don't "owe" anybody a let-
ter. Letters are a gift. The burning
shame you feel when you see
unanswered mail makes it harder to
pick up a pen and makes for a
cheerless letter when you finally do.
I feel bad about not writing, but I've
been so busy, etc. Skip this. Few
letters are obligatory, and they are
Thanks for the wonderful gift and I
am terribly sorry to hear about
George's death and Yes, you're wel-
come to stay with us next month, and
not many more than that. Write
those promptly if you want to keep
your friends. Don't worry about the
others, except love letters, of
course. When your true love writes
Dear Light of My Life, Joy of My
Heart, O Lovely Pulsating Core
of My Sensate Life, some
response is called for.
Some of the
best letters
are tossed off
in a burst of
so keep your
writing stuff
in one place
where you can
sit down for a
il as much as I do, heres one few minutes
tter, you've got to send a letter" and Dear Roy,


"If you like to receive ma
infallible rule: To get a le

Back to Top

© 2020 Regents of the University of Michigan