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Resolve to write letters to the editor

Did you read the New Year's resolutions on the editorial page two weeks ago? I had wanted to say my resolution was to be able to get into my skinny jeans standing up, but I realized a lot of people wouldn't get it because they hadn't read my column.

Half of the people reading those resolutions only read the front page, the obituaries and the editorial page. It's been seven years since the Post switched my column from the editorial page to the Lifestyle section and I still run into people who ask me why I stopped writing.

Which brings me to Post editor Todd Cline's resolution: To get more people to write letters to the editor.

I must admit I'm surprised that so few people write letters to the editor when it's such an easy way to have their say and these days doesn't even cost a stamp! And it's not just that LTEs are so popular locally. They are read by people everywhere.

When I was a LTE writer, a talk show host in New Orleans called me about a letter I'd written concerning an issue at Stone Mountain Park. When I wrote about a Gwinnett teacher abusing the moment of silence, CBS called and interviewed me for a possible feature on "60 Minutes."

When Pulitzer Prize writer Rick Bragg spoke at a Gwinnett Public Library function, he said the first thing he does when he comes to a new town is read all the letters in the local paper to get a feel for the community. A lot of politicians do the same.

Now with news tracking services hooked up to the Internet, letters are scanned right along with columns and news stories. The name Baby Noor in my Dec. 10 column brought in e-mails from New York and Texas, because subscribers requested links to anything that contained her name, which would include LTEs.

Hobnobbing with other writers has given me other insights into the value of LTEs. When I was at a writing conference in Athens, historians told me they read LTEs to find out what the real people thought. Historical novelists said they read old LTEs to find inspiration for more genuine characters and settings.

So, for anyone out there with an opinion to express, a simple LTE puts your name on the most popular page, gives you worldwide visibility through tracking services and a chance to make history. I'd say that's plenty of reason to start writing. And if my words aren't enough, then I'll conclude with words written by Abraham Lincoln:

"Writing is the greatest invention of the world. Great in the astonishing range of analysis and combination ... great, very great in enabling us to converse with the dead, the absent, the unborn, at all distances of time and space."

Susan Larson is a Lilburn resident. E-mail her at susanlarson4@yahoo.com.