Jun 13 - 2016

15: Dear Listener

About the Episode

This episode explores the epistolary form, which is just a snobby way to say stories written in the form of a letter. Andrea Askowitz starts with a letter written to her from her best friend in high school. Robin and Andrea wrote hundreds of letters back and forth to each other throughout their friendship.

The letters in this episode were written 30 years ago, when Andrea spent a summer at camp away from Robin. She also has the letters she wrote to Robin, because Robin died when they were both 33. Robin’s mom gave Andrea the letters. In a round of letters between Robin and Andrea from the summer of 1986, Robin writes about how something was missing while Andrea was away. She reveals how hard it is to date boys and Andrea writes back with very specific dating advice: “BJ’s are a big deal, very personal, but if you lust peni, only do it if he’ll eat you out, it’s only fair.”

Andrea shows us an example of an inside joke between Andrea and Robin. Andrea might be the only one who thinks her joke is funny.

Stories as letters are as old a stories. Seneca, the Roman philosopher wrote letters in the year 50 or 60 and those are now known as the first personal essays. Writing a story in the form of a letter allows the author to be informal, direct, and totally personal. It also forces the storyteller to get to the truth, which is what we’re after in any story.

Misha Mehrel tells his story as a letter to his old roommate. In it, he reveals so much of himself. He tells us what it’s like to lose his best friend to marriage.

Bo uses the letter form to ramp up intimacy with a stranger he meets at a truck stop. Bo gives us a little of his own insecurities and a little of his humor. Stories in the form of letters enable the narrator to be funny, especially if the letter is addressed to someone very familiar.

Chaplin shows so well what a letter can do. The story is intimate with the recipient, the audience and with the self. This story is about Chaplin’s struggle with gender identity. “Ask yourself this, how do you envision yourself growing old, as a woman or as a man?”

Letters are cathartic to write and to get. Especially in those days when letters took effort and money and were written alone in the middle of the night. There’s love in a letter.

In the last letters between Andrea and Robin, Robin says it was good that they were apart that summer, so they could see they could be apart from each other. Then Andrea sends Robin a birthday card on her 20th birthday. The card is really a 40th birthday card and Andrea hopes Robin will send it back to her when she turns 40. Robin doesn’t send back the card.

Writing Class Radio is a podcast where you’ll hear true personal stories and learn a little about how to write your own stories. Writing Class Radio is equal parts heart and art. By heart we mean the truth in a story. By art we mean the craft of writing. No matter what’s going on in our lives, writing class is where we tell the truth. It’s where we work out our shit, and figure out who we are.

There’s no place in the world like writing class and we want to bring you in.

Writing Class Radio is co-hosted by Allison Langer (www.allisonlanger.com) and Andrea Askowitz (www.andreaaskowitz.com). Writing Class Radio is produced by Diego Saldana-Rojas, Andrea Askowitz and Allison Langer. This episode was produced with additional support from Claudia Franklin.

Visit our musicians page to learn about the talented and generous people who allowed us to use their songs.

There’s more writing class on our website(www.writingclassradio.com), Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/writingclassradio/) and Twitter (@wrtgclassradio).

If you love the lessons you get on each episode, you can get them ALL in one place–our three-part video series. $20 for one part or $50 for the series. Click on Video Classes on our website.

Writing Class Radio is now open to submissions from our listeners. Go to the submissions page on our website for guidelines. We pay!

If you want to be a part of the movement that helps people better understand each other through storytelling, please go to writingclassradio.com and hit the DONATE button.

There’s no better way to understand ourselves and each other, than by writing and sharing our stories. Everyone has a story. What’s yours?

This episode is dedicated to the families of the victims of the Orlando shooting.

See Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.

More episodes

Subscribe Now!

Which newsletters would you like to receive?

Yes! By providing my email address, I agree to receive communications from Crier Media (this can be changed at any time). Please take a look at the Privacy Policy and Terms of Use for more details.

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.