Published: 03rd March 2020
With Love, Letters: Here’s how Terribly Tiny Tales is making letters trendy again
Terribly Tiny Tales’ latest offering comes in the form of a book called With Love, which is a collection of letters that are both heart-warming and gut-wrenching. Bring out the tissues, folks!
Remember back in the day when we would write letters to our long-distance friends to stay in touch? Me neither. For this generation, letter-writing has been a foreign concept, except as assignments in school perhaps. So emotions like waiting to hear from someone close as opposed to the world of ‘Instant Messaging’ that we are in and the permanence and timelessness of letters in times where we can immediately delete a message we did not intend to send, are all alien to us.
In a bid to push the envelope when it comes to formats (yet again!) Terribly Tiny Tales, a portal which offers diverse stories in multiple formats, has published With Love, a collection of letters that will turn your heart to mush or give it wings of hope — depending on what you are looking for. And we will let you in on a secret, a letter by Anuj Gosalia, the CEO of Terribly Tiny Tales, has also found its way into the book. So we got in touch with the man of the hour himself to ask what he hopes to achieve by publishing letters, which storytelling format deserves more attention and what he has in store for us next. Excerpts from an interview:
When did you and the team think of publishing letters and why? How long did it take to put this together?
We thought of this book immediately after the release of 97 Poems — our second book with Penguin, in 2018. We launched Open Letters as a format on TTT in 2015 and immediately recognised their power. The curators — Joel Thottan and Sanjana Singh — were excited from the get-go about this format. Letters are so personal, they become universal. And therefore, on the internet, they travel farther easily. It’s taken us two years to bring this out because we had certain challenges internally because of which we could not publish then. But all books, eventually, find their time. 2020 could do with more love and this book is a reminder that love of every kind, binds us all.
As you yourself admit in the letter that you wrote — ‘I’ll write you a listicle because it’s how people read today’, reading habits of people have changed. So were there any apprehensions with regards to publishing letters instead of microstories, the more popular format today?
I’m so happy you asked this. With Penguin we’re always pushing the envelope (pun intended for a book of letters). Our last book of poems was contrary to publishing bestseller data but the team at Penguin believes in our community and the stories we want to tell. Even for this book, we felt that letters would evoke a certain truth and emotion without complicating it with wordy writing. We want to keep pushing formats and bring all kinds of stories to our readers. Bite-sized stories may be popular on the internet, but in this book, these letters are now timeless. And for good stories, that should be the only metric.
This book incorporates letters to cities, from a dog, chain of letters and so on. Which two letters are your favourites and why?
- Long Distance Best-Friend by Palak Kapadia
It captures the wide gamut of insights that play out in a friendship of this kind. No one speaks about it in popular culture. Thankfully, this letter did. It also happens to be a very very popular letter on TTT.
- Dear Hooman by Madhavi Arora
This is from the pov of a dog writing to a human err.. hooman. This letter is just straight-up cute. So simple and so endearing.
The cover of the new book | (Pic: Penguin)
What is it about these letters that you hope will capture the heart and imagination of the readers?
Letters come from a deeply private place but their vulnerability can make us reflect on our own relationships. A letter rings true when you pause in the middle of reading, gently push your head back, stare into nothingness and travel time to think of your own story. We hope these letters make our readers think of their own stories.
Which format of storytelling do you think deserves more attention from the youth today and why?
I think a format that deserves attention is also one of the oldest formats of storytelling — which is the book. I think books are important today because they demand undivided attention and they take you away from the persistent distraction that is the phone. Books also speak of the writer’s commitment. So, if you pick up a book that has compounded in reputation over time, it is the best return on time invested ever.
At TTT, even with the physical books, we’re trying to reinvent how we write a book in this modern context. You’ll hear from us on that, soon.
What is next for Terribly Tiny Tales? What can we expect from you both online and offline?
I think a format of storytelling that really excites us is audio. Do expect a lot more work in audio from TTT in 2020. As ever, we are tinkering with new formats. We did some memorable animation work in 2019 and we will continue to invest in innovative mobile-first formats that deepen our connection with the community. You can also expect serialised long-format audio and video. And books. Many more books.