I’ve started a new thing over the past few months: replying to emails.
I don’t mean work emails or emails from family – I of course already replied to those ones.
I mean email newsletters.
I’m signed up to the newsletters of a fair amount of writers and bloggers, all of whom write content I absolutely love to receive. They’re newsletters that I get excited about opening when they land in my inbox.
A couple of months ago, I realised they’d never know how much I loved these letters to my inbox, emails which feel like they’re written only to me, unless I told them.
So I told them.
Laura Jane Williams wrote a good few months ago about a feeling of not being good enough. I can’t remember then context exactly but she’d realised this feeling and had chosen to approach those feelings differently. In a relatively short email, she had summed up all the emotions I had been feeling that same week: nerves, excitement, mixed together with a feeling of ‘who cares, anyway?’ In the same email, I think she mentioned her book. (Becoming. Out next month. I pre-ordered it ages ago and cannot wait for it to drop through the door.)
I replied to her email, and told her that. Later that day, about to get on the tube on my way home, she replied. Not only did she reply, but she replied like an old friend. She was so genuinely humbled and happy to hear my praise for her writing, despite the fact I’m one of many admirers of her work.
Emma Gannon has a book coming out, too. I pre-ordered it along with Becoming, as I have loved more than anything seeing the stories of Emma and Laura unfold online. I’m so happy for the amazing things happening to both of them. When Emma emailed the cover and release date of her book I couldn’t help but reply: her book will share my birthday (July 7th – get it pre-ordered)! She replied to me straight away, agreeing that it would be a crime to deny myself of a book-shaped birthday present. A few weeks later, I replied to a tweet of hers and she acknowledged again about her book sharing my birthday.
Two people I’ve never met, but who responded to me like friends.
For me, I was happy to be able to tell two people I really admire that I’m impressed by their work, that I care, and that I’m following their journeys. For them, they heard that a random 23 year-old in London couldn’t wait to read their books, and loved their writing. Win, win.
A couple of weeks ago, Nicole Antoinette (of Real Talk Radio, a podcast you need to listen to) wrote a beautiful email about her relationship with alcohol and journey to sobriety. First, I told her I was looking forward to hearing the special edition of her podcast focusing on this issue, as I don’t drink myself and have experienced alcohol dependence within my family. Secondly, she used a phrase which summed up exactly how I feel when my anxiety is bad, or just after a bad period of it when I am exhausted. She spoke of a ‘vulnerability hangover’. I’m going to write about this at more length soon as it struck such a chord with me, but I let her know that she had given me words for a feeling I had tried to explain for so long but had never been able to put words to.
Within hours, she had replied. A short reply, but a reply with all the warmth you’d expect from her had you ever read her writing or listened to Real Talk Radio.
That’s only a few examples, but maybe the few which have stood out for me the most.
When writers and bloggers send out a monthly or weekly or even daily newsletter, they are putting such time and effort and emotion into a piece of writing or a collation of content which feels like it is for you alone.
If you appreciate what someone is writing, tell them.
Tell them when their writing touches you, or that you are proud of what they have achieved.
If their writing has allowed you to feel a feeling you had been avoiding, confront an issue you couldn’t face, or lifted your spirits when you’ve been low, tell them.
The newsletters of the many fantastic writers I follow fill my inbox like the words of friends, and when they have that effect on me I’m going to let them know.