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.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.
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.
Mary Robinette Kowal
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?