Not Just for Diaries

The National Diary Archive I intend to establish will include letters.  Letters are a different sort of private writing, a more nuanced level of self-exposure.  They may not be written with the desire to reveal much, yet they often betray their creator with impunity.   Everything you write, even what you do not say, brings your character to light.   What does it say about you?  Your choice of pen, paper, even the stamp, whispers truths.

I suppose the level of honesty in one’s letters depends a great deal on who the recipient is, i.e. your father, mother, grandmother, or sister, and, of course, your relationship to that person…close or fraught with tension.

As much as re-reading my journals, I experience the voyeuristic pleasure of reading a stranger’s secrets.  Surprise! They are my own.  Some of my letters contain stories of experiences I had forgotten.  Who can remember 50 years ago?  Now a senior, I cannot reliably remember what happened last Tuesday.

What I do remember from last week is the discovery of a shoebox full of around 50 letters I wrote between 1970 and 1976.  A real treasure!   I am reading about parts of my life that have become dim in memory.   Luckily I come from a family of hoarders of ephemera, who preserved my literary outpourings.

Unless the letters stored in your attic are so banal you would hide from embarrassment, I encourage you to preserve them.  You can make them into a pseudo-diary.  Preserve them in a three-ring binder, or a notebook without harmful fasteners, or put them individually into plastic pockets and then into a binder. Your family, your descendants, may appreciate them.  If not, a total stranger of the future world.

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2 Responses to “Not Just for Diaries”

  1. Clyde Hennessey Says:

    This is interesting! I was in the Air Force for twelve years, this before text, email and what have you. I have hundreds of letters I was wondering what to do with, now I have an idea! Thank you, Clyde Hennessy

    On Wed, May 6, 2020, 19:20 National Diary Archive wrote:

    > Cynthia Manuel posted: ” The National Diary Archive I intend to establish > will include letters. Letters are a different sort of private writing, a > more nuanced level of self-exposure. They may not be written with the > desire to reveal much, yet they often betray their creator w” >

    Like

  2. Cynthia Manuel Says:

    Clyde, your name sounds familiar. Have you participated on this website before? I would definitely be interested in your letters. As you say, those were the days before tech took over most forms of communication. Not many people write letters anymore, and the letters that we did write are being thrown away when they could have some significance to someone in the future. As with diaries in this archive, permission would have to be given for the material to become available to the public at a specified date in the future. I may be reached at eclecticreaderbooks@gmail.com or 1-970-223-4019, which is my bookstore’s number. I have been a Fort Collins, Colorado bookdealer for 36 years. Thanks for your interest in the NDA.

    Like

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