Day 10 – Deesha Philyaw Encourages Letter-Writing

Deesha Philyaw writing prompt

The Prompt

Write a letter to your 14-year-old self. Address that young person’s fears, concerns, questions, and insecurities. Offer reassurance based on what you now know as an adult.

The Author

Deesha Philyaw’s debut short story collection, THE SECRET LIVES OF CHURCH LADIES, won the 2020/2021 Story Prize and was a finalist for the 2020 National Book Award for Fiction, the 2021 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction, and a 2020 LA Times Book Prize: The Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction.

THE SECRET LIVES OF CHURCH LADIES focuses on Black women, sex, and the Black church, and is being adapted for television by HBO Max with Tessa Thompson executive producing. Deesha is also a Kimbilio Fiction Fellow. Learn more at deeshaphilyaw.com.

Read A Book, Support An Indie

Reads & Company Logo

This year’s StoryADay May official bookseller is Reads & Company, a privately-owned indie bookseller in Pennsylvania. Any purchase from the site this month supports Reads & Co.

Leave a comment and let us know how you used the prompt, and how you’re celebrating!

13 thoughts on “Day 10 – Deesha Philyaw Encourages Letter-Writing”

  1. I wrote two letters, first from the 14 year-old, and then a reply from the adult me. It was fun! Thank you. This could be an interesting format to write an article for a parenting magazine.

  2. Didn’t do this one. Not fully. I don’t like writing about myself. And, fourteen was a great year for me! I didn’t have any insecurites that I can recall (those came later). I try to live my life without regrets as much as possible.

    1. Love that philosophy. This might be an interesting one to try with a character, though. If you’re ever struggling with a character who doesn’t seem to have much inner conflict, see what they have to say to an earlier version of themself.

      1. An excellent suggestion, which I might use someday 🙂 I also could have chosen a different age than fourteen.

        But really, this month has been a hard one, and I think more than I anything I just wasn’t in the mood to think about the past when I’m just trying so hard to keep things together in the present. Writing is my escape right now.

  3. The letter I wrote to my fourteen year old self gave me the advice to believe I was good enough. To have the courage to express my true opinions and beliefs. Not to strive to please people but to please myself. Not to be afraid to set my boundaries and to expect to be respected. To have the courage to walk away from controlling relationships.
    It was a very therapeutic exercise.

    1. Awesome!
      It’s an interesting break to take, 10 days into a fiction challenge. Mindset is so important to what we do, that even though this wasn’t strictly a fiction prompt, I liked it here.

    1. I dunno. 14 year old me was pretty cocky. 34 year old me, on the other hand, probably could have used a letter!

  4. I wrote a letter from the future male version of me to the past female version of me as an immortal being witnessing the never-ending loop of apocalypse over and over again. I give some advice to live a quality life of intuition and passion over logic and common sense.

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