Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Letters to Dead Writers

Letters to Dead People, an online blogging project by Celine Song, is exactly what the title says: letters written to the deceased. They're short and sweet, like telegrams to the hereafter, and seem to range from wry to angry to painfully wistful. Every one I've read so far is addressed to a famous person, like the one above to Edgar (and yeah, I'm kind of partial to the wording.)

I can't recall ever writing a letter to a dead writer. For one thing, I like receiving replies to my letters. I have sent letters to a few ailing writers, mostly recently Kage Baker, to pass along encouragement, thoughts and prayers, that sort of thing. When you're in the hospital it's nice to know people care and are thinking of you; I speak from much experience.

If I had to write letters to the writers who have left this world, the ones whose work means a great deal to me, I'd likely pen something long, rambling, filled with awkward gushy fan stuff, earnest thanks, and end with a promise to carry on and pay it forward. But I think I can distill one down to a short version:

Dear Oscar Wilde,

Beautiful, brilliant man and writer, you've always nudged me to laugh at myself. Thank you. I wish the wall paper had gone instead.


Now it's your turn: Which writer in the hereafter would you write to, and what would you put in your letter? Let us know in comments.


  1. Dear Robert Jordan, You'd better still be writing... I want to know about the REST of that world someday!

  2. You mean, only ONE?! (sob!)

    Dear Charlotte Bronte:
    You found magic and high romance on those lonely, windswept moors.
    I can't even find anything to watch on cable.
    Let's hang after life.


  3. Dear William Faulkner,

    why the hell did you have to be so pretentious about "A Fable"? I really wanted to love it the way I loved "Light in August." Why?


  4. Dear Ms. L'Engle,

    Thank you so much for showing me worlds full of magic that I could fall into. I can't wait to introduce my children to your wonderful tales.

    Dear Mr. Dahl,

    Thank you for the humor, the joy, the delight. I hope my kids find as much in your stories as I did.

  5. Dear Nikolai Tesla, thanks for all our current technology. I don't get the pigeons, but I hope they were a comfort to you.

  6. Dear Ross Thomas,
    I miss your wit and your wry observations of politics. You would have LOVED the Bush Administration.

    Mark Terry

    p.s. I really wish I had known before I started writing that your story about writing your first novel in 6 weeks and getting it almost immediately published was an outlier. Really.

  7. Dear Kurt Vonnegut,

    So, how goes it?

  8. Dear e.b.white,

    Thank you for a spider, a pig, and the magic of words that taught a 4 year old a love of reading that is one of my greatest joys.

  9. Dear Edith Layton,

    I miss you and your honest view of life and love. This place hasn't been the same since you left. I'll bet the place where you are isn't the same either.

    Hugs, Nina

  10. Nina, you made me cry. I started to write a letter to Edith and just couldn't get through it.

    Thank you.

  11. You are most welcome. Crying with you, nightsmusic.

    Hugs, Nina

  12. Anonymous5:55 AM

    Dear Douglas Adams,

    Will miss the satire.


  13. Darlene, I love your note...

    So it goes...


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