Lexd's Blog

I write about what I want!

Letter writing June 25, 2010

Filed under: other — lexd @ 1:26 pm
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In case you haven’t noticed in the 135 posts preceding this one, I’m kind of a “do stuff” person. I’m not the type to just sit around bitching about something that makes me unhappy.

That’s not to say I don’t do my fair share of bitching, but when it comes down to it, I feel much better having done something … getting involved in some sort of (hopefully) positive change.

I am also kind of an extremist in this category of people. Yes, yes … I am a letter-writer.

As a communications professional (seriously, the job description is “relations with the public,” people), I realize that there are a myriad of ways to get in touch with people and companies. But, also as a communications professional, I firmly believe that few are as effective as a rational, well-thought-out letter.

Of course, it’s way easier to shoot off an email, a Tweet or pick up the phone … but that’s why I like letter writing. Now that there’s a variety of arguably less labor-intensive ways to contact companies, there’s less competition for your letter in the mail bin. And this may be my naiveté showing through, but I firmly believe that someone reads all those letters. It may not be the CEO or even his assistant, but somewhere, someone is reading the letters. And if I am able to calmly and articulately present a rational argument, as well as my desired outcome … I like to think that that someone will pay attention to my letter, and even pass it on to someone who has some decisionmaking power.

I’ve written letters for a variety of reasons. Some have elicited responses, others have not. But you know what? I usually feel better regardless, having stated my case and given the company (or individual) in question a chance to respond. If they respond (even if I don’t get my way)? Kudos to them for acknowledging me.

If they didn’t respond? As a communications professional, screw you. Depending on the severity of the issue and the tenor of the complaint, you’re missing a valuable opportunity to make a customer feel important. And in an age where it’s easier than ever for people to express themselves … don’t you want to make sure that every customer is singing your praises instead of cursing you to the high heavens (*cough cough* Carnival is a terrible cruise line)?

Here’s just a sample of the reasons I’ve written letters over the years:

  • Carnival Cruises’ mangled mishandling of a casino dispute between their casino manager and BF (no response, this was probably the worst experience because it was a customer service issue)
  • Dan Fouts being an all-around terrible college football commentator and hijacking the conversation any chance he got to talk about when he played for the Oregon Ducks (no response, but Fouts was MIA the season after I wrote this letter. I will continue to take credit for this)
  • Subway employee from Gillette, Wyoming holding my wallet after I left it there and drove to South Dakota … and then sending it to Florida on her own dime with all $450+ and credit cards still intact. I wrote a letter both to Subway corporate and the individual franchise (no response back, but I hope she got something. Talk about good karma on her)
  • At the tender age of 12, I wanted to work for Nintendo, so I wrote a letter to the CEO of the company at the time, including a writing sample and a resume (the head of their HR department wrote me a letter back, telling me that my work was fantastic, but unfortunately due to labor laws they couldn’t hire me until I turned 16. I know he was probably just being nice, but this story still makes me happy. I still have the letter)

So, as you can see, I’m not exaggerating when I say that I am one of “those people” … a letter writer. And clearly I started from a young age.

But you know what? I get shit done 🙂

Currently loving: It’s Friday!, Yoga Download‘s “Hip Opening Flow” (got back into Yoga last night yeaaaaaahhhhh), wearing a fun sundress to work today

image from David Spender

 

On Writing December 15, 2009

Filed under: other — lexd @ 7:01 pm
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I am a writer.

I have considered myself “a writer” for as long as I can remember. While writing for school wasn’t necessarily my favorite thing to do (especially because most of it came in the form of essay questions and research papers), I never truly hated it. Outside of classes, I wrote for our high school’s newspaper. I like words. I have been told I am good with them.

What a lot of people didn’t know was that I also wrote a lot of fiction on the side. I’ve been writing stories since I was 5, and while I never shared most of this stuff with other people, I’ve been writing fiction since then. I wrote about a variety of topics, stories, characters … and truth be told, I saved almost everything. I still have it to this day — hundreds (who knows, maybe thousands) of pages, just sitting on my computer. And when I look back at it during the occasional nostalgic spell, I’m actually impressed.

I am not writing this post to toot my own horn, I promise. But when I read some of the things I wrote, I’m surprised. Many of the ideas and emotions in the work are pretty juvenile. This is to be expected, I was in my early teens when I really hit my peak output (seriously, like 13 and 14). But at that point, I had a command of my own style and flow that 24 year-old me is really impressed with.

Honestly, if I didn’t know any better, I wouldn’t believe it was my own work.

As a writer, this is understandably upsetting. In response to this revelation, a couple weekends ago, I sat myself in front of the computer, hunted for some old writing playlists, and attempted to prove to myself that I still had this in me.

I failed miserably. I got about a paragraph in, and then closed the document, disgusted with how contrived my writing felt.

In retrospect, I sort of set myself up for that. I’ve been in a fiction dry spell since the middle of college (more or less). For the past 5 years, I’ve been writing academic papers on Shakespeare, case studies on PR campaigns, award nominations for clients and articles for a variety of trade publications. I’ve forgone narrative and descriptive writing that focused on what was behind the words (the characters, emotions, descriptions), and instead have spent time honing my expository and persuasive writing skills, which very much focus on the words.

This is not a bad thing. In fact, it is what allows me to pay the bills. But, I miss being able to write fiction. I kid you not, I would literally stay up until 4 in the morning with a good friend of mine, writing back and forth back in junior high and high school. I loved to write. It came easily. I could sit down, turn on an instrumental track, and go to town.

Now? Yes, I could sit down and hammer out an article about tax credits for green building, but when I try to go back to that fiction writing, it’s like a spigot’s been turned off in my brain. The drive is there (especially lately, I’ve been feeling like I need an outlet other than exercise). The pathway between the sparks flying in my brain and the tips of my fingers on my keyboard is unmaintained. Overgrown. Seriously, there’s brambles and weeds and nettles and shit, and probably a snake or two in there.

Logically, I know I need to take it slowly. The writing that I’ve been doing for the last 5 years is so different than what I am hankering to do, that I’m out of practice. My goal is a few short vignettes, get the gears moving again, and then go from there.

I guess I’m just frustrated. Intimidated by what I’ve done, the skill that I had (or have, and it’s just dormant or something like that). Practice makes perfect, I suppose.

Writer friends — do you think it’s possible to be good at both types of writing, given the different things they require? Or is it easier to just commit to one or the other?

writing/coffee picture from leah.jones’ Flickr

overgrown image from Si’ilk’s Flickr