The author thanked the students for writing to him and shared some priceless wise words of wisdom with the youngsters.
Schools often make it a practice to have students write letters to the famous personalities they look up to. However, it is rare that these youngsters get a non-generic response to their letters.
In one such instance in 2006, a high-school English teacher asked their students to write a letter to their favorite authors. Many students wrote to their favorite writers asking for advice but did not expect a reply. To their surprise, there was only one author that responded to their letters and it was Kurt Vonnegut, the American writer and humorist who wrote several bestselling novels like "Slaughterhouse-Five" and "Harrison Bergeron."
Michael Warburton, the "All About Eve" actor, shared Vonnegut's letter on Twitter in March 2023 and it has since sent people into a frenzy. The letter—which Warburton called a "doozy"—is filled with great advice for young writers.
It is dated November 5, 2006, and reads, "Dear Xavier High School, and Ms. Lockwood, and Messrs Perin, McFeely, Batten, Maurer and Conglusta: I thank you for your friendly letters." Vonnegut was 84 years old at the time and expressed how getting these letters made him feel incredible. He mentioned, "You sure know how to cheer up a really old geezer in his sunset years. I don't make public appearances anymore because I now resemble nothing so much as an iguana."
One of my favourite authors, for Slaughterhouse 5, yes, but also it led me to bagombo snuff box and so many other human tales. He's the most human author I know of.— Demagogue_Bingo 🇺🇦🔶🌍🇪🇺🥛⚖️⚔️🦉🐝💀🎯☸️ (@BingoDemagogue) August 22, 2022
Vonnegut had some valuable advice for the young students of Xavier High School. He wrote, "Practice any art, music, singing, dancing, acting, drawing, painting, sculpting, poetry, fiction, essays, reportage, no matter how well or badly, not to get money and fame, but to experience becoming, to find out what's inside you, to make your soul grow."
He advised them to start practicing art right at that moment, saying, "Seriously! I mean starting right now, do art and do it for the rest of your lives. Draw a funny or nice picture of Ms. Lockwood and give it to her."
“…but to experience becoming, to find out what’s inside you, to make your soul grow.”— Sasha (@Bobasha) August 22, 2022
Oops, I’m weeping. Total little puddle.
"Dance home after school, and sing in the shower and on and on. Make a face in your mashed potatoes. Pretend you're Count Dracula," he added. Vonnegut even gave an assignment to the students and told Ms. Lockwood to "flunk" the students if they don't do it.
He said, "Write a six-line poem, about anything, but rhymed. No fair tennis without a net. Make it as good as you possibly can. But don't tell anybody what you're doing. Don't show it or recite it to anybody, not even your girlfriend or parents or whatever, or Ms. Lockwood." He then asked the students to tear the poem into "teeny-weeny pieces" and "discard them into widely separated trash receptacles."
I was fortunate enough to have dinner with him years ago. I was mesmerized by him. What a guy.— Dan Man 5512 (@danmartin5512) December 3, 2022
The author added that even after throwing it away, they would find that "you have already been gloriously rewarded for your poem. You have experienced becoming, learned a lot more about what's inside you and you have made your soul grow." Vonnegut's letter went viral on Twitter with nearly 330k likes and several people shared some similar experiences.
Twitter user @dietiea shared, "When I was in my thirties I was into reading English plays and John Osborne was one of my favorites. One day I wrote him a note saying how much I enjoyed his work and he sent me a very lovely letter in return saying how I had brightened a dreary day."
Several others applauded the interesting assignment given by Vonnegut and his approach toward art. User @MitchWiddaM commented, "That's an awesome assignment. We're becoming conditioned to do nothing unless we can get validation for it."
In 2006 a high school English teacher asked students to write to a famous author & ask for advice.— Michael Warburton (@MichaelWarbur17) August 22, 2022
Kurt Vonnegut was the only one to respond.
His reply was a doozy. pic.twitter.com/ozZjFXRDQE