Friday, March 21, 2008

Letters to the Editor: Got Patience?

I want to get down a few words about writing letters to the editor (LTE's). I've been in this game now coming up on a year soon and sometimes it seems like forever. Most of the work is reading, skimming, searching for poverty news and op-eds to respond to...which can be few and far between when it has to compete with Britney (although it is picking up lately). Some of us in Bread for the World keep in touch with each other through email and breadblog.org, notifying each other when something juicy comes up to be responded to. We view ourselves as being part of a movement. We write so that many letters- ours combined with with those of members of ONE, Results and other advocacy orgs- will convince the editors of the newspapers that the issue is important enough to run a letter about it. On any given issue, my letter may not and probably will not run, but if I see someone else's anti-poverty message get in, I know that's because all of us helped put it there.

But what about getting my own voice in the national conversation? It can be pretty depressing and lonely work trying to get something printed in a national publication. A while ago, I was celebrating a printed letter to the editor of mine in the New York Times on-line. That was a really big deal to me. That came about after about 8 months of writing, 40 submitted LTE's, and I don't even know how many 1/2 written and abandoned ones. But it got in and that was a thrill! One that I owe to all the other writers who said about the same thing that I did that week.

In a way, I think this is the perfect kind of service work for me to be doing. Only when I consider myself as part of a movement does any of this make sense. This work has been for me a social justice outlet, a hobby, a writing exercise, and a lesson. A lesson in patience and humility. One that I could have benefitted from many years ago, but I gladly accept now.

1 comment:

Hungry child said...

great! thanks very much for sharing!