Now that it’s November, stop buying things. Suppress the urge. Instead, make lists of what you want. Give those lists to people (people with money, i.e. relatives) and kiss them. It’s especially good to take note of what books you want because I can guarantee that some grandparent will jump at the chance to give that book to you.

This year, instead of the usual fiction and poetry request, may I suggest exploring the world of letters. Great writers (and artists!) write great letters. Browse a few collections at the nearest bookstore and note them down for those wish-lists.

A few of my favorite collections include: selected letters of Emily Dickinson, of Virginia Woolf, of John Keats, of Vincent van Gogh

Dickinson’s letters will literally blow your mind. But you’ll have the whole of winter vacation to gather yourself up again. I’m serious: if you find it hard to get into Dickinson’s poetry, reading her letters is like reading her poetry but there’s even more room to move around in. And she can be hilarious. (She’s so weird. And I by weird I mean how-did-you-exist-you’re-so-fantastic.) Plus, she sent most of her poems in letters to her friends and family. So they’re in there too.

ALSO: with these letters in your possession, you can have a grand old time writing erasures. Erasures are poems formed by taking a text and using its words to create a new poem. For example, if I wrote “The sun was behind the clouds but I could still see your face”, you could take this and write “The sun was still your face” or  simply “behind your face” or even “the face”. Use as many of the words or as few as you want. Using letters as your main source helps your creation flow because you can use “I” a lot more. And “I” always makes a poem seem more human.

(Don’t be scared, don’t let your honor get in the way. This is not stealing. The English language is FREE! And anyway, wasn’t it T.S. Eliot who said “Mediocre writers borrow. Great writers steal.” So there’s that.)