In Making a Literary Life, the book I mentioned in my last post, author Carolyn See talks about the power of the Charming Note. She suggests a five-day a week habit of two things: 1) either writing 1000 words or doing two hours of revision and 2) sending out a Charming Note to a writer, editor, or agent you admire (that does not ask a favor).
So after I wrote about Making a Literary Life, I thought I’d send Carolyn See a Charming Note about how much I loved it, and include a link to the post. Guess what? She wrote back! How great is it to get a Charming Note responding to my Charming Note about the Charming Note’s author of a book about Charming Notes?
While I felt like a heel because I implied it was her book that spooked my long-lost friend, and while being described as "chipper" does nothing for my Street Cred®, Ms. See’s Charming note was a fantastically charming treat:
That's the cutest damn thing I ever saw! (But I can't help but wonder what spooked the other woman so much!)
Thank you, dear. You were just so sweet to write it -- and to send it to me. Might it be possible to connect on to my web site? I don't know how to do that, but if I forward it to my web master, might she glue it on somehow?
I love the rest of your blog too. It's so chipper!
Many, many many thanks...
I’m the kind of person who never misses a meal, even if I have to take beta blockers in order to deal with the social anxiety of sitting with hundreds of strangers. So last year at a writers conference that I attended without the camaraderie of my writing group, I tried to time it so I’d arrive for dinner right as the dreaded “wine reception” was ending. Unfortunately, when I got there it was in full swing so I had to grab a drink and make a few laps, waiting for someone to grab my arm and say something, anything, to me. While social, even gregarious, in many ways, I am absolutely incapable of walking up to a cluster of strangers and joining in the conversation, especially if the topic is oneself and one’s writing. Dizzy from my fruitless laps, I took my wine and walked out of a side door into the wet, black night. And out with me was a fellow writer having a smoke—a very bold choice at a Children’s Writing Workshop. I liked her instantly and we struck up a friendship that lasted through the conference and even beyond; we emailed for awhile and she sent me some new work to edit and I felt like we had a good thing going. Until I sent her a book. It was my absolute favorite book on writing, a gem that I reread at least once a year—Carolyn See’s Making a Literary Life. And then I never heard from her again. Not a peep. I feel weird about it, and I think about her and the book every now and then and get that icky cringe sensation. But I can’t stop giving that book away. If anyone within earshot mentions that they’ve thought about writing, I note their address and send it off. In fact, I sent one off yesterday to a woman I met on my trip to Palenque who is full of stories waiting to be set free. When I was checking out of Amazon I looked through my account history and saw that I had given the book away 16 times—four of those even after it ended a relationship! It’s just that good. If you haven’t read it, I encourage you to order it in hardcopy so you can reread it yearly as I do. Or, if you’re at a Writers Conference and see a woman walking laps and trying to look as if she has a destination, for the love of God grab her arm and introduce yourself. You might find a box from Amazon on your porch not long after.