An Open Letter (5000 Words Writing Class Assignment)*

Dear Satan,

I was thinking how left out and unappreciated you must feel– no one ever gives you credit for the effort you put in around here, the ghost writer of this broken world.

You’ve built a treadmill and set us to running like so many Frankensteins, piecing together dead parts–an arm here, a leg there, whatever stylish philosophy that tickles or pleases or comes along in our moment of need– we patch them together, hit the defibrillator, and expect our creation to be beautiful. How surprised we are at the thing that wakes and slithers off the laboratory table, as if it’s not the child of our own caprice.

I’ll say this for you: except for that little incident with Job (that didn’t work out so well), you’re no braggart. Perhaps you learned from skins like that to take no credit for your orchestrations, lest the world find out it’s you behind the Frankenstein faith being dispensed to and gobbled up by so many– your great placebo. I’d say it’s your greatest accomplishment since your little trick in the garden. At least you were given credit for that one. But now, is it painful to stand by and watch all your work be dubbed anonymous? 

Incredulously yours,


*I try not to waste an opportunity to use the writing prompts I assign to my students. This session we’re studying Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, so I thought I’d piece him in. An open letter has a recipient, but is meant for a broad audience.  In my experience the open letter prompt draws writers into sarcasm the way a tractor beam draws in Star Wars fighter ships, but some of my students resisted the pull and took it in new directions. Even so, I recommend students write an open letter at some point in their academic careers.  They’re motivated by the bullhorn opportunity it presents, even if the only one reading it is the teacher.


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