While writing last night, I made a realization. In each of my novels (this is the third one I'm working on), letters have made a prominent appearance in the story. This was not planned on my part, but rather something that has subconsciously appeared.
I don't know if I would go so far as to call it a symbol. I do not use letters as a deliberate representation of something. Rather, it is more of a...calling card, if you will. I'm sure there might be a literary term for this, but it escapes me at the moment. So for the sake of argument, I will simply refer to this type of personal fingerprint as the "calling card."
Using a letter as my calling card doesn't surprise me. Ever since I was quite young, I have loved to write and receive letters. I used to run to the mailbox every day during the summer in hopes of receiving such a letter. I was disappointed more often than not, but each day I trudged to the mailbox on our farm, I had hope that a letter with my name painstakingly handwritten on the envelope would appear.
In this day and age of electronic communication, an email isn't nearly as good as a letter, but I would much rather get an email than a telephone call. Maybe it's my love of words, of my ability to sit and absorb what I'm reading and craft a thoughtful response, that is behind it. Don't get me wrong, however - a good gab on the phone is priceless! But I also enjoy a good letter.
My grandmother and I have taken to writing each other via the old fashioned way - pen and paper. Even though she has email, I still love to send her handwritten notes. When I see her handwriting, it makes me feel much closer to her.
Maybe that's why the letter has appeared in all my novels. I can also think of a few short stories where I've also used letters. What amazes me about all this is that it is not a conscious decision to use letters - they naturally occur when I write. I've used them in my fiction to convey information, to keep characters connected, to reveal secrets, to break bad news, to enlighten and encourage, and to give hope.
So do you have a calling card in your writing?