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

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 themย right nowย 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 todayย 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?

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. ๐Ÿ™‚

  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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