Dear Leo and Miller,
We had your 3rd birthday party on Friday Leo and you were duly spoiled rotten. You were still up at 8:30pm delirious with tiredness and every now and again you would ask in a pathetic little voice – more present? more cake? I felt terrible for Miller during the party. Every so often I would spot her through the legs of adults, pushing her little pram about and staring up at everyone. It has always been a tradition in my family that you have a ‘party tea’ on the day of your actual birthday. Some cousins still have them now in their early 30s. It’s more a chance for grown ups to see eachother because the months fly by so quickly and everyone is so busy that making plans is just impossible. So at least you can rely on the next birthday coming up for an enforced get together or we wouldn’t see each other half as much.
I have reached the part in the Steinbeck book where he has sold the rights to Of Mice and Men to Hollywood which has enabled him to buy a new typewriter and go on holiday with his wife Carol. In a similar sort of theme (although I have nothing to celebrate, certainly not a financial wind-fall) – I have decided to buy myself a Mac Book Pro because I think it will help me write more and better. A holiday will probably have to wait however.
At this point in the book, his father has just died (not long after his mother) and his tone is so weary and sad it’s almost unbearable. But he tries to sound perky and cheerful at regular intervals, presumably to keep the reader from wanting to put the letter down and never pick it up again… And it made me realise why letters are a much more useful exercise than a diary. If you have some sort of audience to consider, it prevents you falling head-long into a wallowing outpouring of doom and self-pity. If that is your mood that day. So it’s good to have to consider the listener. Because all writers are vain and want their work to be read: I don’t care what they say. Me included.