I had written sentences like "I went camping with my Dad" and she had questions written in red all over all over that sentence.
Where did you go?
Are you close to your Dad?
Was it pretty?
How did you feel when you were there?
Did you do anything that you think you will remember forever?
The whole letter was covered in questions and over the following years she slowly taught me not just how to write and post a letter but how to really speak to the other person and hopefully make them feel like they are right there with you having a friendly chat. I learned so much from her (I still do!) and although my letters will never be perfect and her replies will always include corrections (yes... 30 years later she still happily and politely corrects/questions and probes me to dig deeper) she taught me what really counts in a letter.
Who cares if you went camping? Honestly very few people will although they will be polite and pretend that they do. *laugh*
They WILL care if you tell them that your single father had to deal with your first period and how embarrassed you both were.
It will make someone laugh if you tell them that after spending 4 or 5 hours driving to the campground named "Lost Forrest Park" that your father somehow managed to always laugh at my question (every 2 minutes I am sure) "Are we Lost yet? I am wondering why he never strangled me. What a patient man he was.
It will create an amusing picture in their mind if you tell them how you spent the whole weekend catching great big "wart" covered toads for "Toad Races" with all your friends and that you even spent several hours making a track for them to "run" on... which they completely ignored! How ungrateful!
When I read a letter it is not the day to day diary that I care about anymore although without Olive it might have been okay with me. Then again, I doubt I would still be writing. How sad that would be.
Olive taught me that it is how you felt on that day, what made you laugh when you were there, who made you feel special, what you saw that just took your breath away for a moment that really matters.
In the end I learned that the ungrateful toad is far more important than the trip.