I usually make resolutions for the start of the new year. Some years I pick five or six things to work on. Last year I made none. This year I decided to go all out.
I write a lot of letters. Letters to friends far away, letters to the editor of The Oregonian, letters to authors I read, angry letters to companies, my congressional representatives and people I am not liking at the moment. The only problem is that all of these letters get written in my head and none of them make it to paper, much less into an envelope, addressed, stamped and put in the mail.
I used to write letters all the time. I had email the last two years of college and my friends and I would email back and forth, but we still wrote letters. In my mid 20’s the letters started tapering off, replaced with long emails that were printed out and saved as if they were letters. Then the emails tapered off, and what did come, got deleted with all the other email. I realized awhile ago that I hadn’t written an actual letter in years.
There are so many steps to letter writing. There’s the letter being written, which assumes paper, pen and legible handwriting are present. Then there is the finding of an envelope, the correct address, a stamp and a mailbox. Somewhere along the line those steps became overwhelming and I stopped doing them.
I have a few friends, two exactly, that still write letters. Jenna never really stopped, and I can remember when we were roommates, having a discussion about how people didn’t write back when she wrote. After I moved out, I became one of those people.
My friend Sara sent me a letter last year that reminded me what fun letters are. Sara’s letters are always covered in stickers. They are written longhand and in fun colors of ink. They discuss what is going on in her life and asks about mine. I wrote her back. And she wrote me back. And then that letter sat on my desk waiting to be answered. For two months.
So, this year, I pledged to write and mail one letter per day.
If I had written this entry at the beginning of January as planned I would have outlined my fears:
- It would take too long
- I wouldn’t have enough people to write
- What the heck am I going to say?
- I wouldn’t ever get a letter back
My plan was to assemble a letter writing packet. It would have envelopes, paper, postcards, favorite pens, addresses and stamps. I did that.
My fears and assembling the letter writing packet had me paralyzed for the first two weeks, and I didn’t get started until January 14. But now I have been writing a letter per day. Here’s what I have learned.
- Having the letter writing packet is key. Writing a letter can take as little as 10 minutes and when you have all your supplies in one place, it only takes a minute or so more to have it ready to go out the door to the mail box.
- There aren’t as many mail boxes as there once were. I read awhile back that the post office has been removing little-used ones. We have none around us that are on the way to anything, though we do have a branch post office in our neighborhood.
- Even though I’m not thrilled with my handwriting, I actually enjoy hand writing letters. For some reason, sitting in front of the computer typing a letter seems like work, while sitting at the table or on the couch or in the doctor’s office with a pen in hand is fun.
- I do feel awkward writing people I know who I’ve never written to. I worry that they will feel pressure to write me back and my letter will become a bundle of guilt sitting on their desks. While it would be nice for everyone to write me back, it’s not super necessary, nor do they have to write me via the post office. Email works too.
- I hate writing my return address. I get all clench-y when I am writing it, and find myself holding by breath. I just printed out return address labels this weekend.
- Writing can be cross marketing. I included this blog address on the return address label.
- I enjoy dashing off letters to authors and people who write for the paper or magazines. The internet actually helps with this. It is very easy to find a mailing address for any author you might want to write you.
- I will get letters back. Just yesterday, the author of a newspaper article I wrote to wrote me back. “Who the heck is this?” I wondered as I opened the mailbox. Then I was delighted to read his letter.
Do you want to get a letter from me? I need your address. How do you know if I don’t have your address? You would know because you didn’t get a Christmas card from me. If you want me to write you, there are two options. If you have my address, write me. Or just email me your address and I will add you to my address list. My email is (disguised here, see if you can break the code:-): stenaros. shift 2. the free email provider that starts with a “y”. dot com.
For blogging purposes I will publish a list now and then of who I have been writing too.