[Guest Post] A Letter That Stayed With Me – Paul Cornell

Today’s guest blogger is Paul Cornell, a writer of SFF in prose, comics and television. His Shadow Police urban fantasy novels continue this year with Who Killed Sherlock Holmes? and his Witches of Lychford novella will also get a sequel this autumn. His episode of Elementary will be screened in March and his comics prequel to the Warcraft movie is out in May.

ElephantmenI can think of a couple of letters that made a big difference to my life.

The one from Virgin Books editor Peter Darvill-Evans, stating that “if I wasn’t careful” I’d be writing one of the first original Doctor Who novels had me leaping up and down in my hallway, until I started to wonder what he meant by “careful”.

But the one I’m going with was much earlier than that, from Richard Starkings, who at the time was editor of the Doctor Who Magazine comic strip, and who I’d written to for some advice on getting into comics. What he sent me in return was hand-written and ten pages long, and I kept it for decades. (I lost a lot of stuff over the years because I tended to have ex-girlfriends who wanted to burn things.)ย It was full of good advice. But, more than that, it assured me that to make the leap to writing professionally was possible.

Richard is, quietly, still a big deal in comics, as a letterer for just about everyone, a marketer of fonts, a file preparation guy, and the creator of his own comic, Elephantmen. He’s also the heart and soul of the business, someone who’s done every job, who’s still helping everyone to do their best. He doesn’t get enough recognition for that.

So I thought that, by remembering his letter here, I’d get to say that about him.

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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