building a community with love letters

While in Toronto, I met a woman named Chris Kay Fraser and she told me about her project where she was inviting people to send in love letters of all sorts.

And she’s having a love letter contest that ends this week.

You may have heard about Post Secret – the project where people were invited to send in their anonymous secrets on post cards. It started small, but word spread and now it’s grown an entire community of people fascinated with and touched by the sharing of very real and vulnerable secrets.

Well, Chris has started a similar community around Love Letters. This is a great example of becoming a hub. Sometimes, in the beginning, you do the work for free to build up the community and later you find ways that it can also feed and sustain you.

I asked Chris to send me the story of how it started, what the response had been and where it was going and here’s what she had to say . . .

Here, as promised, is the link to the love letter project.

http://www.fireflycreativewriting.com/love-letters

Of course, any help promoting it would be beautiful! It’s a 100% not-for-money-just-for-the-love-of-it thang.

Love letters love letters love letters. Here we go…

The love letter project started around a campfire. It was late at night, my birthday, the last beautiful weekend of the summer. A group of close girlfriends and I started talking about letters — the big letters of our lives — the ones we’d received from lovers, the ones we’d written but never mailed, the ones we kept in our bedstands, the ones we threw out and then regretted it. We talked about the ones we’d sent each other over the years.

All of a sudden, I realized — this is everything I care about. I’ve been teaching small, cozy writing workshops for years, helping people put what’s inside outside. I am constantly working towards creating nourishing, inspiring spaces for people to recognize the power of their own words. These letters, it seemed, held that power, undiluted.

It grew from there. Over pancakes the next morning, I asked the girls if they thought it would work to run a workshop in love letters. They loved the idea, and we discussed what elements the workshop would need, and how I’d have to make it safe. Soon, it became an e-class, and then a contest.

The response has been stunning! Right now, I’ve run three out of four packed-out love letter writing workshops, which I put on for free as a gift to my community. I’ve received dozens of love letters from around the world. I’ve also appointed a jury, from some of my most committed students, to judge the contest. Everyone from my mail-man to a 19-year-old girl in New Zealand have entered.

The ripple effects are perhaps the most beautiful part. I’m often hearing from people who find themselves writing letters they never thought they’d write, and then sharing them. One woman told me that she had used her husband’s computer to scan in a love letter she’d written to herself. Late that night, he found it and read it, and he was so touched that he wrote her another love letter, which she found tucked into her laptop when she got up.

You can read many of the letters that have come in, and some words about the jury, on my website, www.fireflycreativewriting.com/love-letters.

I’m not sure what the full scope of this project could be. Already it’s grown further than I’d imagined. January 1st I’ll be launching an e-class on love letter writing, walking participants through the penning of six new love letters. We’ll write to our lovers (past, present, or imagined), our friends, our long-lost’s, our vexations, our favorite places, ourselves. It will be a warm and colorful call to get our hearts on paper, in all their mysteries and layers.

I’d also like to organize a public reading with my contest winners, or at least the local ones! And, I’m dreaming of a “Love Letter Garden” on my website where folks could post their love letters, and comment on one another’s.

On a personal note, I’m also writing a love letter every week for the fall and winter. I’m not publishing these, I’m not even always mailing them, but I’m diligently creating pages of love, staying connected to the things and people who make my heart thump.

That’s the project! So far, it’s been nothing but fun. I’m so grateful for that campfire, back in August.

(I should write a love letter to it…)

What do you think?

Maybe you will send in a love letter yourself?

I dare you – http://www.fireflycreativewriting.com/love-letters

 

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About Tad

  • Writing yearly love letters to ourselves should be mandatory writing projects in schools..I’d have fallen in love with myself sooo much sooner!!!

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  • Twana Biram

    I have entered a love letter in Chris’ endeavor. It’s so different from what I had planned to write. I had an emotional blow from someone I love dearly–but we never talk about it because our family doesn’t talk (except to deliver pain, it seems). My anger, and deep hurt kept eating at me. I saw a reminder from Chris about the contest. I wrote a love letter to this family member. I cannot say how much healing I gained from remembering all the specific reasons I love this person.

    Besides the wonder of expressing love romantically, is the truth that reacting with love to those who hurt us heals. I am no Gandhi or Martin Luther King, Jr. But I have learned the truth of what they proclaimed through writing this very un-me letter.

    The letters Chris has posted make me laugh, make me cry, make my heart ache. What an amazing project!

  • I ADORE Chris Kay Fraser. She is a generous soul and it seems like the most logical thing in the whole wide world that she should find herself amidst piles of love letters. She’s a midwife for the written heart, that one.