Day Five OR Holy priceless stamp collection, Batman! That’s a lot of mail.

Day Four and 25 letters waiting

It’s Sunday. For most of the world, the mail does not run today, which means you don’t have to mail anything. On the first day off from the Month of Letters Challenge, I thought I would report in on how it was going for me. So far I think it is going really, really well. I should pause here to say that I did not expect this to go viral but, lo, it has. I have no idea how many people are participating at this point beyond suspecting that it is way more than the number of people registered at the website.

The Month of Letters Challenge has been covered by The Guardian, the New York TimesThe SpectatorGalleyCat, and blogs in languages ranging from English to Hebrew. I had no idea — NO idea that it would take off like this. I think it has because I’m not the only one for whom the computer has become a place of work. Other people also want to step back a little and letter writing allows you to do that without pretending that you don’t also love the internet.

I have, at this point, answered seventy-seven letters or postcards and that only takes us through Day Four. Yes. That is a lot of correspondence. But I am loving it. I’m hearing from people that I would never get to talk to otherwise. Housewives from Lousiana, fountain pen enthusiasts from Minnesota, artists from Estonia… It’s amazing.

As much as that, I’m also loving sending out mail to my friends. Before the month started, I used the Month of Letters Calendar to decide who I would write to each day. Even with the volume of mail that has been coming in, I’m still mailing something to one of my friends every day, knowing that they probably won’t write back.

That’s okay. They don’t have to. What’s satisfying is taking the time to think about them and — weirdly — to complete a task. Jackie Gamble pointed this out to me and, by gum, she’s right.

Apart from the magic, which is undeniable, I’m enjoying the sense of accomplishment. It only takes a few minutes to write, seal, stamp, and walk down to my mailbox. As soon as I flip up the flag, I’m done. I’ve accomplished what I set out to do. If only all goals were as easily met! That’s magic, too, I think.

Having a goal of mailing one thing a day is a simple, achievable task. It means that there is at least one thing every day that I can complete and feel good about. You know? So many things that I need to do are open ended.

Yes, I’ve finished writing Without a Summer, but it’s just a second draft. Yes, I’ve finished proofing Glamour in Glass, but I have to plan the launch party. Yes, I’ve finished carving the Fuzzy’s toes, but I still have to ship him. There’s almost always one more step, even after finishing something. Not so with a letter. Once it is in the mail, you have completed your task. All that remains is the potential that someone might write back.

So, yes. Having a passel of people to write back to is terrifying, but awesome.

Are you participating? If so, how’s it going for you?

22 thoughts on “[Wayback Repost] Why do letters seem more daunting than email?”

  1. Having been a letter writer for several years now, I don’t particularly find this challenge all that difficult, other than remembering to do it every day instead of when the whim takes me to write. And since I may not have a penpal’s letter to answer, then I need to think outside my normal circle of penpals and write to others. I saw this as an opportunity to reconnect with a few old penpals that had lapsed, family members that live outside of the city, friends I haven’t seen in a while, and strangers or persons of stature. I think it’s a great challenge and maybe it will even boost the joy of those who process all this mail and deliver it to us. 🙂

  2. I love your post. And I totally agree.

    Email, tweets n twitters, FB comments all have their place and moment in time where they are the appropriate way to respond.

    However, sending a letter, postcard, or notecard is the only way to connect with someone on a more personal, even intimate, level.

    The act of sending a missive does take time, but more importantly it takes thought. What paper will I use? What will I add (stickers, washi, etc.)? What will I say? Combined these choices will be a bright spot in someone’s day. Added bonus? It was created specifically for them.

  3. Great article on postcard apps but you should also take a look at Postsnap’s easy to use postcard app.
    The app offers a number of unique features compared to the other apps reviewed including:
    – Guest checkout with Apple Pay
    – Extensive personalization options including collage layouts, stylish borders which can be adjusted in size with a slider and the option to add editable text in a variety of font types and colors and position it anywhere on the cards
    – iPhone and iPad support
    – Apple Pencil support
    – Facebook and Instagram integration
    – US postal address verification and UK postcode lookup
    Cards are printed and posted in our facilities in the UK, USA and Australia on the same or next working day and so cards typically arrive quickly. Enjoy!
    Stephen Homer

  4. I have been writing letters for several years now. My go to paper is Rhodia Premium or Rhodia Ice pads. I also Life pads too. I like them because they are not quite as slick as the Rhodia.

  5. I too love journals to pull apart for writing. For me the most important aspect of the paper is the pattern. I love to have some colour and some design on the paper. I’ve managed to find a number of nice colours and designs at one of my local “Home Sense” discount stores in the book section. Most of the small journals are a perfect size to fit in the envelopes I use. If not I just give one edge a bit of a trim (but sometimes I really like the ripped edge look too!) ;P

  6. Hi, Christmas cards & more recently a letter (a bill) from the UK to Australia have taken 3 weeks to arrive. The exterior of these envelopes were stamped with a mark such as this from the latest envelope:
    DLC 992-4
    The example quoted arrived at the Australian address on 28/07/2017, unfortunately it contained a bill dated 06/07/2017 which had to be paid within 14 days, by 20/07/2017.
    Why is the post so slow? What does the DLC 992-4 stamp signify? Would appreciate your feedback.

  7. My letter that I wrote was in September. The person who it was for still hasn’t gotten it and it’s now November….
    I don’t understand why it’s taking this long. I live in AZ and he lives in NY. I want answers.

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