I follow @LettersofNote on Twitter because I find reading original letters, such as the letter of a soldier in Vietnam written on the day that Saigon fell or the last letter of Marie Antionette a fascinating look into history and humanity through original sources.
And sometimes the letters are inspirational, such as today’s letter from F. Scott Fitzgerald to an aspiring author and family friend. He sums up so well why I love to read debut books. There’s something fresh and raw and hungry in them that I don’t know if you can ever recapture. They may be flawed, but they’re often fearless. Later, a more experienced author can pad a book with crafty skill and trickery, but as Fitzgerald says so elegantly, without that, all you have that anyone wants is you.
Love this letter. It’s my inspiration for the day: F. Scott Fitzgerald-You’ve Got to Sell Your Heart
P.S. The Great Gatsby wasn’t Fitzgerald’s first book, but I recently re-read just the scene where Daisy crushes Gatsby’s dream with the line “I loved him once, but I loved you too.” I read Gatsby on my own in high school. My class actually didn’t read it. We might have been the only one. I was one of those kids who actually thought I would miss out if I didn’t read those classics everyone else was reading, so I tried to supplement these gaps in my education by getting the books myself from the library and struggling through them without the benefit of a teacher’s guidance telling me what was significant.
My conclusion was that I, as a child, read that scene for story–for plot. I overlooked it for nuances of emotion and characters. It’s a clean and powerful scene. Now I feel I must go and re-read all those books again.
Cara Lopez Lee
Jul 19, 2012 @ 11:53:29
Fitzgerald’s letter rings with truth. I never fool myself that I know the tricks of the trade well enough to discard the idea that I must be naked on the page: all my emotions exposed, especially the ones of which I’m ashamed. If I’m writing a scene and begin to squirm in my seat for fear that someone might see it, I know I’m on to something. Thank you for sharing such an inspiring reminder.
Jul 19, 2012 @ 13:39:28
I agree. Some might think the advice here is harsh, but I felt it to be very promising. It says you shouldn’t be trying to write just well. You should be striving to write with passion and honesty. If you can do that, you might have a fighting chance.