Eight quotes to make your letters a bit more special

Sometimes some good quotes can be just what you need for your letters to dive …

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Ashley Farm, 786th Force Support Squadron assistant postmaster, reads yellow slips at the Southside Post Office, Ramstein Air Base, Germany, May 26, 2020. The SSPO uses a number lettering system to indicate what package is requested and where it is located. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Taylor D. Slater)

Sometimes some good quotes can be just what you need for your letters to dive a bit deeper than the superficial.

Whether you’re writing to a recruit at basic training or a deployed spouse, it can be hard to come up with new things to write about. I know this because I committed to writing a physical letter every day to my husband during three, nine-month-long deployments (it was a big undertaking).

To be fair, they weren’t always “letters,” but more short notes and cards. But many days, I would sit down at my desk and struggle to think of something to say.

One tactic I used that worked very well was to find a quote (or a song lyric or poem) that resonated with me, put it at the top of the letter, and then write down my thoughts on it. This helped me be able to go deeper in my letters than the superficial, “Today I took the kids to school and did the laundry.”

Here are eight quotes you can use as writing prompts in your letters

quotes letters

“Nothing makes a room feel emptier than wanting someone in it.”
― Calla Quinn, All the Time

Questions to think about: What is the room that reminds you most of your spouse/partner? What memories have been made in that room? Have you changed it aesthetically during your time apart? Maybe you have moved during that time to a place you have yet to live in together. Describe that room in your letter.

“I imagine a line, a white line, painted on the sand and on the ocean, from me to you.”
― Jonathan Safran Foer, Everything is Illuminated

Questions to think about: Where would that line run through if it was connecting the two of you? Are there any places along that route that you would like to visit together? Do you have any memories of some of those places already?

“Distance sometimes lets you know who is worth keeping, and who is worth letting go.”
― Lana Del Rey

Questions to think about: What about this time apart has made this person worth keeping? What are some of the qualities you admire most? What have you learned about yourself during this time?

“We can only see a short distance ahead, but we can see plenty there that needs to be done.”
― Alan Turing

Questions to think about: What do you envision your future to look like? What are you biggest dreams (nothing is too big)? Where do you see your life in forty years?   

“Everything seems simpler from a distance.”
― Gail Tsukiyama, The Street of a Thousand Blossoms

Questions to think about: What seems simpler to you now that you are apart? Has your perspective on anything changed? Have you had a chance to think about past arguments and what you might have done differently? Is there anything you like about your independence that could carry over to when you are back together again?

“It is not a lack of love, but a lack of friendship that makes unhappy marriages.”
― Friedrich Nietzsche

Questions to think about: How can you cultivate more friendship in your relationship? How have you succeeded (or failed) at that already? What is the difference between friendship and love?

“Love is like the wind, you can’t see it but you can feel it.”
― Nicholas Sparks, A Walk to Remember

Questions to think about: How can you show love to each other while you are apart? Letters, prayers, planning trips for the future? What are some loving actions you can take?

“The world is indeed full of peril, and in it there are many dark places; but still there is much that is fair, and though in all lands love is now mingled with grief, it grows perhaps the greater.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

Questions to think about: How does the reality of danger change the way you love, or the way you show your love? What have you learned about valuing your relationship in the military? If you are feeling anxiety, how can your partner help alleviate some of that?

As you find quotes that resonate with you, save them in a notebook or on your phone. You can go back to them when you are both together again, and discuss them in person also.

Victoria Kelly
Victoria Kelly is the wife of a Marine veteran and the author of the novel Mrs. Houdini and the poetry collection When the Men Go Off to War. She graduated from Harvard University, the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and Trinity College Dublin. She has taught creative writing to veterans around the country and is the director of creative strategy at a DC-based public relations firm. Find her at victoria-kelly.com.