Letter 50

November 05, 2020

On 50

This is our 50th letter, which is weird and hard to believe but also…not. It’s been so long since we started this (almost two years!) that I can’t really remember a time when we weren’t writing this newsletter together every two weeks, honestly. It’s a comforting, familiar part of my routine now—and it’s one of my favorite things to work on. I’m glad I get to make something cool and fun that I’m proud of with one of my best friends on a regular basis. I love seeing the way it’s evolved over time. And I love that no matter what else is happening in our lives, this newsletter will be a solid constant, every other Thursday, right on schedule (usually). In this letter, we’re gonna recommend a few things that have helped us make Letters to Summer happen. Thanks for being here with us.


As I’ve written dozens of times in this newsletter, I’m bad at habits, I’m bad at routine. The constant in my life, for the past two years, really has been this newsletter. The fact that it lasted through major transitions in my life is honestly 100% thanks to Jill—as you’ll see by the rest of the letter, the bulk of the technical work is on her. She hosts our website, she formats the letter; I “run” the “Patreon” and “contribute ideas to the on x topic each week,” but she is my tech queen Virgo rising best friend and I love doing this with her! We are so happy to have all of you with us, too.


We recommend

📽️ Letterboxd

I have a bad memory and I forget what I’ve consumed the second I’ve done so; using Letterboxd has helped me, both find movies to watch and remember that I watched them. I’m averse to recording my media intake with my own personal systems, because brain bad, but I love the mostly cataloging social platforms that help me keep track instead. On a week where I have no idea what to recommend, I just look at what I’ve logged on Letterbox, and realize that I do, in fact, consume new content! It doesn’t have the corporate brainworms the way Goodreads does, so logging a lower-rating on a movie doesn’t feel like I’m ruining someone’s life. You can follow me there, if you’d like!


📱 Notion

I’ve mentioned Notion in this newsletter before, but I’m bringing it up again because it’s played a big part in writing and keeping track of our letter drafts. So, for the Notion fanatics, I wanted to share a little bit about our setup: Summer and I have a shared Notion board with all of our drafts, separated into categories—main letters, plus the three different kinds of bonus letters we write for Patreon subscribers. Each draft has a status (“Not started,” “Drafted,” or “Published”) so we can easily see what’s going on; and a due date, so we can also look at them on a calendar view to see which letters are coming up next. Plus, we have templates for each type of letter we write, so all we have to do when we write a new draft is fill in what we need.


💡 The recommendation process

I’ve definitely recommended shows on major TV Networks and Marvel films, but every other week I basically ask myself: what have I consumed that could benefit from me saying I have done so? Even if just one person picks up this book, how can I use my word the most? I don’t want to recommend Captain Marvel before a chapbook from a small press. The further we get into this letter, the more mindful I am of the things I endorse. I think back to an early, early letter in which I talked about my devotion to Claire Saffitz; now, the entirety of BA leaves a bad taste in my mouth. In reality, she never needed me, and the brand didn’t, either. There’s no such thing as pure consumption, and our letter still exists under capitalism, but there are always things we can do. I don’t want to recommend Amazon Prime shows anymore or send you there to buy a book. I don’t want to give views to people who probably hate me. I don’t regret what I’ve recommended in the past, because I know in the moment they brought me joy and I just wanted others to feel it, too. But the fact that people listen to me is just a blessing, so if there are tiny tiny ways I can make the world better? As long as people are listening, I will try.


📱 Ulysses

There are a million text editors and word processors I could use to write my recommendations for this newsletter, but my go-to most of the time is Ulysses. Here’s why: I like writing in Markdown, and I like having a lot of control over my writing space. My favorite thing about Ulysses is its customizability—from the font, to the line height and width, to the custom themes. You can browse for themes on the Ulysses website, or you can create your own using any colors and text styles you like. Writing in Ulysses is just pleasant and I like it a lot! Give it a try if you’re comfortable with Markdown and want to use a nice, pretty text editor for writing.