Monday, January 30, 2012

A month of letters

Reading Jan's blog last week, I found a challenge to write real letters, as in snail mail.  A month's worth of letters, that is, not counting Sundays and holidays, when the Post Office is closed:
Last September, I took a month off from the internet.  During my vacation, I told people that they could correspond with me by paper letter.  Some people did.  Some people still are.  Every letter delights me.

When I write back, I find that I slow down and write differently than I do with an email.  Email is all about the now.  Letters are different, because whatever I write needs to be something that will be relevant a week later to the person to whom I am writing.  In some ways it forces me to think about time more because postal mail is slower.  “By the time you get this…”  It is relaxing.  It is intimate.  It is both lasting and ephemeral.

How so?  I find that I will often read the letters that I receive twice.  Once when I get them and again as I write back.  So, that makes it more lasting.  It is more ephemeral because I don’t have copies of the letters that I write and I am the only one who has copies of the letters that my correspondents write.  So, more ephemeral.

When was the last time you got a letter in the mail?  December sees a lot of mail, and you remember that sense of delight when the first card arrives.  You can have that more often.

I have a simple challenge for you.

1. In the month of February, mail at least one item through the post every day it runs.  Write a postcard, a letter, send a picture, or a cutting from a newspaper, or a fabric swatch.

2, Write back to everyone who writes to you.  This can count as one of your mailed items.

All you are committing to is to mail 24 items.  Why 24?  There are four Sundays and one US holiday.  In fact, you might send more than 24 items.  You might develop a correspondence that extends beyond the month.  You might enjoy going to the mail box again.

Feeling intimidated?  It’s fewer words than NaNoWriMo, and I know how many of you do that.  Join me in The Month of Letters Challenge.

Sincerely yours,
Mary Robinette Kowal
If I do this, what will I write?  Who will I send it to?  I put together this much of a post, then stopped.  For four days, I forgot about the challenge altogether.  Then today on Facebook, my friend Madge, who found this through another blogger, said she was going to do it.  Having never met face to face, though we've been book buddies since 1996, Madge and I exchanged addresses and I'm committed.

If you want a letter from me, send your snail mail address to me at emerging(DOT)paradigm(AT)yahoo(DOT)com.  I'll try to write to the first 24 on my list.  I guess I should start with Jan, who wrote the post which alerted me to the challenge, then Madge, who convinced me to do it.  Who else?


Helen's Book Blog said...

What a great concept. I wish I had the stamina to do one thing a day. Maybe I"ll just send some letters to my grandparents during February

Bonnie Jacobs said...

Helen, send me your address. I don't think I kept yours after getting the book. IF you want a letter, that is.

Anonymous said...

I am writing 29 letters. I am making my list and addressing the envelopes as requests come in. I am so excited. Can't wait to start on Wednesday. My list is so eclectic. Some I have never met, some not on FB and some old timers.

Jan said...

Yay!! This will be fun. It'll be good to get back to sending mail.

Bonnie Jacobs said...

Helen, Madge, and Jan, thanks for sending me your addresses.

Madge, I may also send more than 24, but I'll do at least that many and then see if I have time for more.

Now I need to buy some special stamps to make it fun. I hear there are some new stamps out for the Chinese Year of the Dragon, which I wrote about recently. I'll try to get some of those, since I was born in the year of the dragon.