I watched an inspiring TED talk today. Hannah Brencher was a depressed 22 year old college student who decided to reach outside of herself and write love letters to absolute strangers. She tucked them all over the city, and then she blogged about the letters she wrote. She said that if anyone wanted a handwritten letter, she’d write them back.
Her inbox was flooded.
People wanted a love letter from her, not because they knew her or even had a chance of ever meeting her, but because they wanted the contact. They wanted a physical proof that another person thought about them, even from the greatest distance.
She writes people back, and I find that both beautiful and amazing. Whenever I see examples of strangers reaching out to strangers, offering kind words with no expectation of anything in return, it inspires me.
As a writer, I aim for publication. I want my work to be read, my stories to touch other people’s lives, too… But what about the woman who pours her heart onto paper for a complete stranger? One stranger. Not a group. Not “readers,” just one stranger. No compensation.
Every once in a while I hear from a reader–an email, a Facebook message, sometimes even a physical card sent through my publisher– saying that she or he read my work and it touched them… touched them deeply enough that they wanted to sit down and make contact with the author. Someone cared enough to put themselves on paper. For me. And when I write back, I realize that I don’t know this person, but we’ve connected through a book. It’s random, and wonderful—-the kind of thing I hold onto.
There is something about reaching out to strangers that catches my interest. It’s full of romance, a brave experience of humanity. I think there might be a novel in there somewhere…
Have you ever connected with an absolute stranger?