Hannah Brencher is the woman behind More Love Letters, an organization that works to bring more love letters to the world. Through their site, you can leave letters, send letters, or request letters for someone. Hannah created More Love Letters after a year spent writing 400 love letters to strangers. A TED speaker and writer, Hannah speaks around the country about the More Love Letters’ story and inspiring college students to be movers and shakers for the bigger picture. In 2013, Hannah signed her first book deal to Howard Books-Simon & Schuster. Her memoir, If you find this letter, will be in bookstores February 2015. You can also read her creative nonfiction at her personal site, HannahBrencher.com.
I met Hannah at a Women Who Brunch event back in March. I was struck by her warmth immediately and couldn’t wait to spread the word about the project. She was kind enough to do a little interview with me recently.
More Love Letters began, in essence, with you writing love letters to strangers. Could you tell us a little bit about what inspired you to start writing?
Honestly, I was just lonely. That’s the truth. I was having a really rough year. Moving to New York City wasn’t unraveling how I expected it would be and I needed a way to vent and get these feelings out of me. I liked the feeling of being able to be candid on the page and not send the letters. Those letters eventually became more encouraging as I started to challenge myself with what people would need to read on that day if they picked up a letter.
What has been one of the biggest surprises about starting More Love Letters and writing a book about your experience?
I think one of the biggest surprises was finding out how much MLL means to other people. I guess I shied away from the real story for a long time, even in the book writing process, because I thought people would not care and they would be annoyed with my story, like– why is she talking about herself so much!? And then, through the writing and getting real with myself, I realized that it wasn’t just my story. It was the story of so many other people. And that’s why I had to put it out there.
There are so many kinds of nourishment. What are your thoughts on the role of love as nourishment?
I think love is the absolute most pure and necessary form of nourishment. It is the most underestimates and, at the same time, the most essential and the most easy to overlook. We need to dish love out. We absolutely need to. It’s how we keep going. And even little things, like love letters, can keep love in the right place in our hearts.
In your work with More Love Letters or on your own site, have you found that food and body issues come up in the context of talking about love—be it self-love, love for others, etc?
Self-love, I would say, is one of the biggest underlying issues that we deal with on More Love Letters. Especially in America, for young people, body issues and a lack of self- respect for one’s self is a huge issue. It’s sad to read so many of those stories. It’s sad to read the way people see themselves and how easily we kick ourselves down. If we can combat that, even in just a small way, then I think we are doing a worthy thing.
This is just a fun one—do you have any favorite nourishing foods? Any go-to meals or snacks when you were writing your book?
Hmm! I love Kale chips! And I love tea. Eating grapes + watermelon + brussel sprouts was a godsend because you’re releasing sugars out of you when writing and it’s so much healthier than just reaching for bread or something that won’t fill you! Also– addicted to smoothies + Lara Bars. All of the above was key!