Adventures in Letter Writing No. 47: “Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits.” (Jack Kerouac)

Does anyone else find the roots of words interesting? I think that’s something we miss now by not using good old-fashioned dictionaries. Don’t get me wrong, I do use the internet all the time to check the meaning of words but my dictionary of 25 years I would never part with. In fact it would be my book of choice on Desert Island Discs. Ironically (is it irony?) what sparked this train of thought was because I was wondering about literary festivals and whether they were only for the converted, as it were, sort of like Christian festivals, but then thought perhaps any festival is for the converted depending on the subject matter. I mean if you’re passionate about cats you aren’t going to go to Crufts (well you might but can you see my argument). So then I had to look up the word festival. French: related to festive; festive, Latin: related to feast, which was fascinating and all on a page with fester, feta, fetid, fetish, fermentation, ferocious, ferry, ferrule, fertile, fete, festoon and fervid, to name a few. The internet never gives such lovely word sandwiches does it. And feast, from the Latin festus, joy. Of course!

But the point about literary festivals was because I guess not being especially booky, from the outside looking in, I always feel a bit intimidated by the intellectual academic nature of them. Have I got that all wrong? Daft of me really. I suppose I just need to go and try one, don’t I. I’d love to always have a book on the go – it is my new aim but it doesn’t come naturally and I wondered if I was the only one who felt like that. I thought people wouldn’t want to go to a literary festival if they felt out of their depth or not interested, so how do you encourage people to be interested, not out of their depth, and want to go? I’d love that natural passion for books (I absolutely know the value of them), I just need a way in. Self-discipline maybe or good recommendations? I am giving it a go. I do get that books are undiscovered treasures and when I find one I like I won’t put it down, it’s just making the time for them. Probably how a lot of people feel about writing letters, and I am a convert in that department.

Perhaps writing letters appeals to my “do-ie” (real word) nature. Fear not though, there is hope. Someone I respect hugely for their creative talents couldn’t believe I wasn’t a “reader” (in my defence I am a reader just not as much as some). He said “You tick all the boxes my dear!” which was lovely. He also said (about himself) “Most of the time I’m thinking out loud and my thoughts are wandery and given enough time I inevitably contradict myself” which I really want on a t-shirt. I’m always on the lookout for the Lost Tribe of My People (a book title if ever I write one) but then I wondered can a misfit belong to a tribe? Surely a tribe of misfits is an oxymoron if ever there was one. But writing letters from an early age got me interested in words in a back-to-front kind of a way. And there was that recent study by the National Literacy Trust as part of Blue Peter’s 60th birthday celebrations that said “Letter writers are better writers” so perhaps letters and books all go hand-in-hand after all. I mean, a lover of words is a lover of words aren’t they?

Maybe there’s a place for this epistolophile (sadly not in my dictionary) amongst the bibliophiles yet…


4 thoughts on “Adventures in Letter Writing No. 47: “Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits.” (Jack Kerouac)

  1. Korby says:

    I don’t know what that guy was talking about. Of course you’re a reader: a feeler, a thinker, a doer, a synthesist of all those things. That’s what this is, isn’t it? The Handwritten Letters Appreciation Society. A place where mind meet matter, where brains and heart meet bodies and penmanship, where soul meets body.

    Keep up the good work. Love from America.

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