Here is an exercise I’ve been refining for a while, and which I shared in my creative writing group last week. It’s silly and liberating and, perhaps because of that, gets fantastic results every time. The reason – it takes you through some difficult writing transitions (eg from memory to detail), but also the set stages means it becomes impossible not to use concrete details. Go epic, enjoy (and feel free to share your writing in the comments)!
How to Write a Love Letter to a Kitchen Utensil
by Sarah Salway
Writing love letters to spatulas or coffee machines may come easily to you, in which case, ignore these instructions and just sit down with pen and paper and let the magic commence. Otherwise, let’s look at a tried and trusted formula…
- Begin by saying what it is you want as a result of your beloved reading this particular letter. He/she/it/them should know from the start that this is a love letter and not a note to ask if they could be a bit quicker when boiling water, or to stop needing to be cleaned so often. A start may be something like, “I was thinking today about how very much I love you, and how I really don’t tell you that enough.” CHEESY IS GOOD, especially if talking to a cheese knife!
- Think of a shared memory. The special thing about the two of you is your shared history. What’s different between you two and, say, you and the oven or the fridge? For example, begin by saying, “I still remember clearly the moment I saw you in the shop. You were in a box of other spoons but somehow you stood out. I knew immediately that I had to have you. I left briefly to try to summon up my courage and to question whether I had enough money. But it was no use; I was totally tongue tied when I pulled you away from the others. Could you really be mine this easily?”
3. Now for the meat of this piece. What exactly are the things you love about him/her/it? This is a seamless shift from the memory above to right now. You can say something such as: “And here we are ten years later, I’ve got rid of three wives in the meantime but you have always been steady and there for me.”
4. Tell him/her/it all the concrete things you love. I would make a list first, or freewrite. Some suggestions would be physical characteristics, character, all the things he/she/it does for you. Why you love him/her/it? Then simply turn your list into sentences. “I love the whiteness of your exterior. I love the way you light up when I open your door. I love how you are full of treats that never fail to cheer me up. I love the shivers you give me when I stand too close to you. I’m so grateful for everything you do for me, from keeping me well-nourished but also never moaning if I have another beer.”
5. Explain how your life has changed since meeting him/her/it. “These last few years have been the happiest of my life. I feel that with you I always have my best friend by my side.”
6. And now end with a line that really sings out your love. “I can’t wait to grow old with you.” “My love for you will never end.” “You are my best friend and soul mate and I will love you until the end of our lives.”
You can of course use exactly the same stages above for a real person. In fact, do and I dare you to send it.