I can’t give advice about falling in love, but I can tell you how to write a book that shows readers how it’s done. I was lucky to inherit 72 onionskin love letters, half in my mother’s handwriting and half in my father’s, which had logged 200,000 miles.
If someone’s old love letters fall into your hands, and you wish to write, look at them as coupons to be redeemed. Take them to the store of your memory which is open 24-7, even while you sleep.
Work at your computer every day during the hours when you are at your brightest.
1. Don’t ever think the letters can be published as is.
2. Sit down and be their first patient, receptive reader.
3. Open separate, numbered chapter files in your computer under “Love…”. The order is chronological, in chunks of weeks, months or years.
4. Consider what genre you are writing in (Nonfiction or Fiction? History or Personal Memoir? Biography or Autobiography? Confession? Love Story?) This is important. It gives your material a theme, a slant, an organizing principle, and eventual title.
5. Judge what’s most interesting in the letters and place segments of exact quotation into the appropriate chapters. The continuity will come later, as you are inspired in your sleep.
6. Make a note of things to be checked or researched on the Internet, in photos, from surviving friends and family members. Find out more about well known people or events cited, unanswered questions, contradictions, intriguing assumptions, etc.
7. Pin down the facts. Return to the drawing board. If you misconstrue one thing, your whole story will become skewed and false. Even a work of fiction must be convincing.
8. Start back at the beginning each day, always looking for a better word and making sure you keep up the pace. If your attention droops you are boring the reader and that’s the worst sin.
Finding the love letters when I was 69 turned me into a busy researcher and author. My ‘reference library’ was at home in old albums, photos, knapsacks, journals and lantern slides, as well as relatives and family friends. A Book of Kells and Kathleen’s Cariole Ride resulted, as well as enough work and pleasure to last for the rest of my life.