Letter 86

May 15, 2022

On doing whatever we want

When we started writing this newsletter (years ago, somehow!) I was really serious about staying on schedule and not skipping letters because I was way too used to starting new projects and abandoning them—and I didn’t want to do that with this. I wanted Letters to Summer to keep me in check, hold me accountable for writing and working on something every other week for as long as I could. Having a partner like Summer helped a lot with that. Since we started the newsletter, we have had to skip letters, we’ve sent plenty of letters out late (this one was supposed to go out last Friday, sorry!!!), and we’ve changed our schedule to better accommodate our capacity for making stuff. I don’t have the same fear that I did when we started. We’ve sent out over 80 newsletters—I’m not worried about our ability to keep going, even if we take breaks, even if we stray from our schedule. This project isn’t about staying accountable anymore; it’s about continuing to work on something together because it’s fun and we enjoy it. So if there are days it’s a little bit harder for us to do the work, it’s all good. We’ll do it when we want to.


This newsletter used to look a little different. It’s always had the same staples—two recommendations from each of us, a Tweet, but the “on” section used to just be little random updates. We used to use Substack! We used to send it out on Wednesdays? Now Fridays? RIP Patreon! I’m writing this on Saturday after we forgot two weeks in a row to send it out. This project is about flexibility—the low-stress way to encourage each other to keep up with the practice of writing, to remember the little things that kept us alive for the past two weeks, and most importantly to only do what feels good. I’ve had my fair share of control-related breakdowns over the years, exacerbated by the pandemic. Productivity leaks through into every part of my life, so even when I’m doing something fun, I find a way to make myself feel bad about it (despite actively working to not do this!). But with this project, there’s another person there to remind me we can literally do whatever we want!


We recommend

📖 Longing and Other Heirlooms by Arati Warrier and Sagaree Jain

This is a very special chapbook!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Arati was my CUPSI coach/beloved mentor/current friend and Sagaree is a kindred spirit; they wrote this book together and it is so, so lovely and good. I’ve only read a few co-written chapbooks but I’m always in awe? This one is structured by similar poems on variation, with each narrative bleeding so well into the next—it never feels repetitive or jarring, rather incredibly cohesive. I think this is hard to do even when every poem is by the same person; there’s fun to be had in a cowritten chapbook, too, in thinking about authorship and voice—who is the primary storyteller in each moment? which details belong to who and where do those details repeat? Highly recommend; you can buy your copy here.


📱 Image2icon

I recently got fed up with the Spotify icon on my Mac not matching the shape of all my other Big Sur icons, so I wanted to make my own. I used this app, which makes it very very ridiculously easy to make custom folders and icons for various purposes. You can upload your own image to use, or you can type in a word or emoji and just pick a background color to keep it simple. If you’re the kind of person who has (or wants to have) a cute, themed Home Screen on your phone with widgets and shortcuts, this app is probably for you. (And if you don’t know how to change an app icon or folder on your Mac: right click → “Get info” → copy and paste the image you want to use onto the existing icon.)


🎮 Kirby and the Forgotten Land

This is the cutest game in the world!!!!! My brother and I played it co-op all of the way through which only made it cuter! I wish more Nintendo games had been co-op when we were children but now we can make up for it. Even though most Nintendo games are good for 7+, this one feels like it skews a little younger; it was easy (probably easier because of the co-op) and sweet and well-paced. And the ending was absolutely ridiculous. I had a blast! Now we are on to post-game. Nothing better than 3D Kirby!!!!!! Free him from sidescrollers!!!!!!!!!!!


🎶 Spotify group sessions

All day, I’ve been listening to TXT with my friend who lives six hours away while we both cleaned our apartments. Every once in a while we’d message each other something like “this song makes me go stupid” or “this album has NO MISSES”—like we were driving around together listening to an absurd playlist. The magic of Spotify group sessions! There’s something very comforting to me about knowing that my friends and I are listening to the same music at the same time as we go about our days.