The perfect romantic gift requires just three ingredients: pen, paper and your imagination. A passionate love letter is something your beloved can cherish for a lifetime (or at least until you break up horribly and toss all the worn-out tokens of your affection on the fire).
Here are a five tips for writing an unforgettable love letter.
Take whatever cliché springs to mind, for example, “let’s grow old together” and paint a word picture of what that really means. Describe your vision of the two of you surrounded by your grandkids, or doing the foxtrot at your fortieth anniversary party. Don’t generalise. Instead of writing, “you’re gorgeous” Describe in minute detail the way his eyelashes look when he’s lying beside you, half asleep; or the curve of her back when she turns to look at you over her shoulder.
Everyone likes to be reminded of happy times. Think back to your first date, your first holiday, your first Christmas with the family. Pick one of those moments and write about it in detail. Reminisce about what you wore, what you ate or drank, the song you danced to, the bad jokes. Don’t just describe things, though; tell your lover how it felt to share that with them, how proud you were, how exhilarated, how honoured.
Throw aside the useless euphemisms and coy phrases of polite everyday life. Say the things you wouldn’t say to anyone else in language you wouldn’t use in front of anyone else. If you’re stuck for inspiration, try reading a few of James Joyce’s love letters to his wife Nora.
Let your words burst into life like fiery sparks and flow recklessly across the page. Don’t worry too much about spelling, grammar or sentence structure; heat, passion, ferocity and desire are wild. Follow Henry Miller’s fine example and let your imagination run free.
Letters are old-fashioned; unnecessary; an indulgence. Savour the extravagance of their corporeality. Use the finest paper you have; if you own a fountain pen, use it. Tuck a snapshot into the folds of the letter, or a pressed flower. Seal the envelope with a blob of wax, or tie it with a ribbon. Make it an object to treasure and your lover will.