Day 20: Sharing News, the built in time-delay

February 20, 2013 in Journal

Glamour-in-Glass by Mary Robinette Kowal One of the things I was not expecting to enjoy about postal mail is the delay. I write something and then send it but it may be a day or a week before the recipient reads it. I think of it as writing to the future. Most of what I have to say won’t be news by the time my recipient gets it, particularly in the days of the internet, so what I’m recording is my reaction to the news.

It’s a time capsule of the moment, of my inner state.

That time-delay becomes particularly handy in my line of work when I am often given good news that I have to sit on. When you sell a novel or get an award nomination, it’s usually embargoed. So you usually have several days before you can tell anyone. I have discovered that writing letters to people satisfies my desire to tell them right now without violating any confidentiality agreements.

For instance — Several of you will be getting letters that contain the news that my novel, Glamour in Glass, was just nominated for a Nebula award. You’ll get to see my messy enthusiasm captured in a tangible form. The news just became public today so what is contained in those letters will no longer be “news” but it will be a reflection of time.

In fact, I find that time delay to be useful not just with embargoed announcements but for maintaining a long conversation. There have been times when I’ve met a new friend and we have a flurry of fun email then the correspondence drops off because it’s so fast that there’s nothing new to say. Postal mail’s built in delay gives you time to restock on life so each time you write there actually is something new to talk about, even if it’s just your current state of mind.

How about you? Do you enjoy the time delay?

6 responses to Day 20: Sharing News, the built in time-delay

  1. I find the delay fascinating- we live in such an instantaneous society that having that delay between what you wrote and what you receive back and write back is rather interesting. You find you build up a list of things to write about, and I find its normally the more significant things that I write about than I do on FB. It allows you time to think about what you write instead of just letting your brain firewall down and spewing out whatever is in the front of your brain. I find I’m much less impulsive in my writing.

  2. First Congratulations on the award nomination.
    I do like the time delay, especially if I am going to a show or exhibit I can mention it in one letter and follow up with details later in another letter. I have found writing letters is like a continuing saga of each of our lives.

  3. I don’t mind it, but I do get awfully antsy when days go by and I haven’t gotten any real mail! Because I’ve actually written an awful lot of letters, especially this month, but several days of the week are just dead for mail.

  4. Congratulations on the award nomination!
    I like the time delay as well and I always try to imagine the person as they were writing the letter.

  5. Congratulations on the award nomination! I like the delay or the time capsule effect of letters.

  6. Congratulation on the award nomination, that’s way awesome!

    About the time delay, it’s easily one of the things I love the most about snail mail. You have to change your entire way of thinking when you write a letter that still has to be interesting for the recipient when it arrives, often several days or a week later. And in a time when everyone posts everything on Facebook/Twitter/other social media site, I find that it’s nice to be able to talk about those things people never talk about. When someone chats me up on MSN or Skype, they never ask me what I’ve read lately, if I’ve seen any good movies or what I think about the spring coming nearer. Instant messaging is so very instant, and getting to know someone through mail is just so much deeper. And that’s coming from someone who’s spent the last 13 years online, getting to know people every single day by any social media there is.

    Also I find that writing letters makes me update my facebook a lot less, because I have some of my penpals friended there. While I enjoy reading their status updates, I’m beginning to realise that my penpals are the ones who are the least active on there..I think I’m starting to see a pattern!

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