All posts by Lettermo Postmaster

An Introduction to the Victorian Letter Writers Guild

LetterMo pal and ECL Society of Letter Writers founder Denise provides insight into one of the writing groups she and some members her society are part of if you are looking for additional pen pals after February. This one is for Ladies only.

“Do people still write letters?”

That was my reply to a patron at the library where I work when she suggested that we start a letter writing social.  Of course, now I know the answer is yes!   To begin gathering information for a letter writing social, I decided I should first find myself pen pal.  I searched the internet to find a pen pal matching site that didn’t involve a fee and was for females only and that is when I found the Victorian Letter Writers Guild.  

The Victorian Letter Writers Guild was started in May of 2017 by Sarah Coller, who believed “scattered amongst our fast-paced, stressed-out society, there is a special kind of people hiding in plain sight who come from all walks of life and possess varied interests and goals, but all hold one desire in common—a longing for a more relaxed and thoughtful way of life.”  Sarah now has hundreds of ladies who apply for pen friends both domestically and internationally.  

Sign up at victorianletterwritersguild.blogspot.com not only to be notified of quarterly pen pal matches but also for birthday and holiday card exchanges. 

However, you may be wondering, “Does my letter have to be Victorian themed/decorated/written with a fountain or quill/worded with flowery 19th century language?

Sarah says this is not necessary. The term “Victorian” is used in reference to the “old fashioned” art of letter writing – not so much to the style of letters or art work employed. Of course, many who join the exchanges enjoy this aesthetic, as well, but using it is not mandatory. She doesn’t want people to be intimidated by believing one must be a fantastic artist or eloquent speaker to participate in our exchanges. She further confirms, “We are average women with average lives who share a love for simplicity and beauty. If you can relate, you belong here!”

Her blog also features: 

  • Creative ideas for designing extra-special correspondence
  • Mail art techniques
  • Historical information regarding letter writing, Victorians, etiquette, and more
  • Quarterly pen friend exchanges
  • Writing-related swaps and giveaways

Getting a pen pal is easy!  Once you’ve signed up for her blog, simply wait for the quarterly pen pal match up to arrive via email and fill out the short questionnaire about yourself and what you hope for in a pen friend.  The VLWG pen pal match is quick and free.  Sarah hand matches everyone and within days you’ll receive an email with your new pen pal.  You can get yourself a new pen pal every quarter if you like.  How many pen pals is really ever enough?  Over the years, I have received many pen pals and treasure every one Sarah hand matched just for me.  

You can also follow along on Instagram @victorianletterwritersguild.  

If you enjoy handwritten correspondence with like-minded people, The Victorian Letter Writers Guild may be for you!

Dear Friend,

Thanks to longtime LetterMo member @oliviarrow for
sharing her own personal experience with uplifting words from “secret friends” that started her on a lifelong journey paying it forward and sending kind words to stranger.

In this part of the LetterMo challenge, maybe you’re running out of people to write who you already know or have written before. You might want to send notes to folks you don’t know, but you feel a little funny writing to strangers. What do you say? How do you know what they like? What if you say the wrong thing? 

I’m here to tell you to get over the fear and DO IT

Like many LetterMo participants, I was introduced to letter writing as a young person and have been the grateful recipient of innumerable mailings ever since. As a teenager, there was a period when I was struggling a lot and had body issues and depression. That’s when I first got a card signed “Your Secret Friends” with a message of encouragement, love and support.

I received a few of them and they were written in different penmanship with no return address except for “Y.S.F.” To this day, I do not know who sent me those love letters, but I have kept them for over 25 years because they made me feel like I had value and was loved at a time when I didn’t think that was possible. 

Those cards remind me how easy and accessible it is to uplift others with a stamp and a few kind words.

Since I received those wonderful surprises from my secret friends, I have sent many letters and cards to countless strangers around the world, simply to spread love and encouragement. I am happy to help you get started on your own journey to spread kindness!    

A great place to start is lettermo’s very own #MailMission post in the Resources section, where you will find links to send mail to troops, children in hospitals, and senior citizens, to name a few. From that list, I have done More Love Letters, where letter requests are posted on the first of every month with short paragraphs about why the recipient could use your support.

Another site I have used in the past is Girls Love Mail, for women newly diagnosed with breast cancer. The site offers pointers on what to say or avoid if you need a little help composing your letter. This year they have a campaign to collect 25,000 letters called 2021 MILES OF MAIL.

Then there’s The Letter Project, which I only just learned about. The Letter Project is a faith-based organization for women and girls to write and receive encouraging mail. 

As if those weren’t enough resources to choose from, there are still more ways for you to spread kindness through the mail and letters.

  • You might take a more grassroots approach and try contacting a local care home about reaching out to seniors and people who are isolated in your area.
  • You can send a love letter to your favorite local restaurant
  • Maybe fan mail to performers or businesses you love who have been struggling due to the pandemic.

This has been a particularly tough time for so many people, so don’t underestimate how valuable your encouragement can be, even anonymously. Maybe you can send some cards to Spread Joy 24-7 to leave around in public spaces for strangers to find.

You get the idea, there are more resources than I can list here, but you have plenty to get started with whatever route speaks to you. Do you have a favourite #MailMission that you are dedicated to? Please share in the comments below.

Dudes Write Too

Photo: Francis Scott Fitzgerald, c. 1920 (Bettman/Getty Images)

Thanks to LetterMo pal, Dario for giving us an inside look
into an elusive segment of the snail-mail community,
the male letter writers.  😊 
We Admins are always happy when we see new guys sign up!

Dudes Who Write is a global community of guys who enjoy handwritten or typewritten correspondence sent through the postal system. Our goal is to make it easier for guys who love snail mail to find each other, to increase our visibility within the global snail-mail community, to share resources about anything postal, and to promote analog correspondence among fellow gentlemen.

Guys who enjoy postal correspondence are like mirages, they are heard of through shared pen pals or found through Russian-doll-like chases across Instagram accounts, so I thought that in this day and age there should be an easier way to connect us.

I knew of multiple letter-writing groups but none where you could easily spot guys, who seem to be fewer, less visible, and less outspoken than women about their passion for mail. In the social media wilderness, the more common male species of potential snail-mail writers are philatelists and fountain-pen lovers with a few typewriter aficionados thrown in for good measure. For some of them their obsession of choice does overlap with the pleasure of corresponding by snail mail, but it’s not a given.

I wanted to create a safe space to find and be found by like-minded guys of all races, religions, and sexual orientations, and on September 20, 2020, Dudes Who Write was born on Instagram. It has been exciting and rewarding to see many guys who love all things postal join our community and use our platform to find other guys to exchange mail with.

The way our community works is very simple; by following the Dudes Who Write account, our members are always in the loop about anything new, and they can interact with the community in whatever capacity they feel like:

  • Sharing their experiences about the topic of a given post (which gives them visibility within our community so that other guys who are interested can contact them)
  • Commenting with an intro and a request for correspondents on the latest post on the grid
  • Reading the existing comments on any of the posts to find a suitable postal pal and contacting that person directly in a reply to the comment or with a DM.

We also have a Facebook account for whoever is not on Instagram, and on both platforms the members of our global community can post their introductions/pen pal requests in English as well as in whatever language they want to correspond in.

Exchanging mail is such a powerful tool to bring people together. To gay guys who might be without family support or feel alienated within their own circles of friends, for example in remote/rural areas where LGBTQ visibility and acceptance can be challenging, connecting by mail with other guys who might understand what they’re going through can be a lifeline that sustains them until better days arrive.

Life can be a solitary affair, indeed, but it doesn’t have to. Having a pal you can write to will undoubtedly bring solace to your days. Guys can be guarded about their feelings and fall prey to anxiety and isolation, but mail/letter writing represents an opportunity to pause, collect your thoughts, and share your daily life with a friendly like-minded person open to receive such a gift and to reciprocate it.

In these times of widespread lockdown, even guys who are not used to writing mail might feel more inclined to give it a try, and I hope that Dudes Who Write can help create connections and bridge such needs.

Dario

Links:

Frank Sinatra Stamp, USPS 2008

PenPalentine’s Day

We love the letter writing community who are creative in
so many ways! We were thrilled to discover a new holiday
which we fully support! Thanks to Sarah of the
Mojave Correspondence Club who tells you all about it.  😊 

Cast your mind back to late January 2020, I, like many other letter writers, began seeing numerous Valentine’s Day and Galentine’s Day posts and themed mail.  While absorbing all the amazing content I had a play-on-words brainwave, PenPalentine’s Day.  Really, there was almost no further thought put into the entire holiday.  Last year as I was sending out all my Valentine’s mail I made a couple of fun PenPalentine’s Day cards and sent them along too, and declared February 15th PenPalentine’s Day.  

A year, and many many letters later, I decided to resurrect my fun play-on-words holiday and found to my amazement that people loved the idea!  So, I finally put some thought into what the holiday means to me.  I wanted a holiday to celebrate my lovely penpals, and all those who keep the world of snail mail alive and thriving.  No one has to write to me, and it’s a hobby that takes time and money and effort, and for all of that I am so thankful for every single person who has ever sent me something in the mail. 

So, I hope that this February you will take a moment and thank your penpals and the small businesses that create all the cards, postcards, washi tape, wax seals, stickers, and vintage postage that brings a smile to your face every time.  

I never expected to invent a holiday, yet here we are celebrating the second year of PenPalentine’s Day, so tag me in photos and posts and show me how you are celebrating! #PenPalentinesDay

Happy PenPalentine’s Day,

Sarah 
@mojavecorrespondenceclub 

Welcome to A Month Of Letters 2021

Hello Letter Moians!

It’s finally February 1 and Day 1 of A Month of Letters Challenge. We would not be here without the hard work of the dedicated volunteer Admin team so a GREAT BIG THANK YOU to them!

You can still sign up to participate but please be aware there are real live humans who review and approve each registration to keep spam bots out of the site.

We are aware there is an email glitch and some people are getting notifications while some are not.

  • If you have registered up and haven’t received approval within 36 hours, try to log in with the information you registered with. 
    • If you still have problems or need to reset your password, contact via contact form or DM on Facebook. Again, there are real humans trying to help so please be kind and patient.

If you have not yet done so, please log in and head to members only forums and the Introduction thread and say hello! It is also a good time to check your profile settings – new members should be accepting penpal requests and please indicate when you write: in February only (but mindful of the LetterMo pledge, see below) or year round.

A quick reminder of LetterMo etiquette and pledge:

  • Those who request a friend should write first
  • Reply to every letter you receive even if it takes you past February and beyond.

If you want to share your happy mail, please apply to join our private Facebook Group A Month of Letters Challenge 2021 (you will need your username to apply; real humans check this) and post your outgoing/incoming mail in the Daily Mail Call or if you are on social media, tag #LetterMo2021 on Twitter @LetterMonth or Instagram @MonthOfLetters. Please cover up addresses of sender/recipient to respect everyone’s privacy.

Happy Letter Writing and Have Fun!

Stay safe and kind out there!

LetterMo Postmaster

Here’s some fun from LetterMo member Christy!

🎶 Letters will go out, tomorrow
Bet your bottom dollar that tomorrow
there’ll be mail.
Just writing a friend, tomorrow,

with your own words, or words that you’ve borrowed, or share a tale.
When I’m stuck with a day, that’s gray and lonely
I just pick up a pen, write a friend and say:
Oh
The post’ll arrive, tomorrow
So just write back, day after tomorrow, to convey
You like mail
You make friends
You share things
and then send – your reply’s only a day away!

Welcome to LetterMo 2021!

Hello!
Welcome to A Month of Letters aka LetterMo, the 2021 edition! Thanks for being interested and wanting to be part of the growing movement to revive the art of letter writing.

Wonder how this annual celebration of snail mail got started? Find out here or check out the FAQ if you have questions about how this works.

Sound fun? Want to join us? Sign up here. Some things to keep in mind:

  • A more complete profile will help you find a better match
  • Be patient with approvals – there are real humans who approve each application; don’t re-apply as it will make you look a spam account and get banned.
  • When you receive your approval, LOG IN (next to the sign up button) and check out the member only FORUMS where you will find a START HERE post with guidelines
  • Ensure you have a secure password.

Check in at your post office or online to order your stamps as well as find, order or make stationery and get ready for February 1!

We would not be here with out the vision of our founder and the hard work of our wonderful Admin team. There is a lot of behind the scenes work and they have volunteered their time to keep this program running and also those who have contributed their design skills.

Happy letter writing and have fun!

In the meantime…

While we wait for the technology to be updated, here are some past posts that are good reviews especially if you are new to letter writing.

LetterMo 2021

Hello – A happy and healthy new year to all!

We’re happy to confirm that the 2021 edition of A Month of Letters is a go.

However, the small volunteer admin team is still in the process of setting things up.

There is still some technical work to be done before we start approving new members regularly. This is a process that is done by real humans, and one at a time to ensure our members don’t get spammed. There is no need to apply multiple times, it make the address look like spam.

Thanks for being kind and patient.

The links still need to be updated and the site might be inaccessible from time to time as the technical work goes on.

There will be an announcement when we’re ready!

Thank you,
LetterMo Admins

Insider’s look into the Arizona Correspondence Society

Thanks to Letter Moian Renée for writing this insider’s look into a starting up a club!

I’ve been a letter writer for a long time – more than a few decades.  I was 11 when I wrote to my first pen pal. If I wasn’t writing to a pen pal, I was keeping a journal, which I consider to be nothing more than a letter to myself.  I have experienced the benefits of letter writing that we all have read or heard about at one time or another.  If you are reading this, chances are you have written a few letters in your lifetime and experienced and know the benefits too.  And, if you ask around, you are not alone.   

A couple of years ago, I started working from home and had more time to surf the internet.  I discovered a variety of online pen pal organizations, stationery aficionados, pen clubs, and letter writing communities.  The abundance of postings of images of letters being sent out and/or received made me gleeful to know I am part of a broader community of letter writers; so much so, that I wanted to know who in my immediate community is a fellow epistler, and could we have regular meetups much like any other social club?  

There are numerous letter-writing societies around the world.  If you are interested in finding a local society, check out the Directory of Letter Writing Societies’ website.  The listings are by country and by state.  You can also search on Meetup for a group near you.  While I discovered there are many groups and all with a variety of agendas, there was nothing in Arizona.  Hence, I decided to start my own society and named it the Arizona Correspondence Society, an organization whose mission is to facilitate the enrichment and deepening of human connections via handwritten letters. We received our nonprofit status in December of 2019.  

And up till this March when we began following social distancing guidelines, we were pretty productive. We were holding two letter socials a month, facilitating letter writing at an elementary school, answered ‘Dear Santa’ letters, and held our first calligraphy workshop.  We had plans to work with a local adult care center for letter socials, but for now, we are providing letter writing supplies for their use until we do have their first letter social. We have been fortunate to receive donations of letter supplies, fountain pens, and stamps which have kept the letter socials free.  I maintain our website and our Instagram account to promote our events. Not all letter writing societies are nonprofits, but many are facilitated by businesses that specialize in writing supplies. There are plenty of community groups that are facilitated by neither, but all of the letter societies are facilitated by someone passionate about letters.

While we are uncertain when letter socials can take place again, the Arizona Correspondence Society will be ready when it becomes safe.  Until then, letters will still be written and delivered, and letter socials may be happening online.  

In the meantime, you may find yourself with some extra time to spend on research. So, drawing from my own experience, allow me to share the steps taken and lessons learned to start a local correspondence society. It is a long post, but if you want a successful group and events, you need to consider all the angles.


How to Start a Letter Writing Group

Find your squad, your posse, like-minded people:

I started posting on my Facebook page to get an estimate of how many people would be interested.  I posted on my page and also various community pages such as neighborhood groups, women groups, fountain pen groups… you get the idea.  I received a very positive response from letter writers and from those who were interested in starting the practice.  

Set a date and time:

Here is where I made a big mistake.  I queried those who responded to my posts regarding a date and time.  The response was all over the calendar. Trying to figure out a date and time that would work for the majority just wasn’t happening.  After a month of trying, I had to become the “PostMaster” and choose the time and date that worked best for me (especially since I was going to have to facilitate the group).  If some people could not attend, I figured they could attend a future letter social.

Find a location:

Since I did not have a budget for this endeavor, and I wanted to make it as inexpensive as possible, I started calling libraries, local bookstores, and free community rooms.  I was looking for a place where I could hold a meeting regularly. I learned that if you schedule far enough in advance, this was a possibility. I was lucky to find my local library had a community room available.  My back up plan was to utilize a coffee shop or an eatery, but some places will expect you to order a minimum amount of food or drink – something to consider when choosing a location. Other things to take into consideration are travel time, public transit, and parking availability.    Sometimes a location will dictate your time and date. You will have to be flexible. I choose time and date based on my schedule and the availability of the library room.

Publicize the Letter Social:

Publicizing really is the key to success, and there are many ways to go about it.  I posted on all my social media accounts and then some. I sent out personal invites to everyone who had previously said they were interested and to some of my business acquaintances.  I also did a bit of advertising at local stationery stores, libraries, coffee shops, and community calendars, as well as creating a Meetup group. Keep in mind that there is a cost to Meetup, but I was able to find a discount code to make it a bit more affordable.  If you publicize blindly via all avenues, you don’t really know how many people will show up. That’s why, for the first two letter socials, I asked for RSVPs. While I wanted to be prepared for the potential stampede of people, truthfully, I figured for every ten people who said they would come, maybe one would show up. I received 10 RSVPs, and four showed up – not including the librarians that came in and out of the room.  Once you’re established, you’ll have a better idea of what to expect for numbers, and then I don’t think it’s necessary to have an RSVP unless you have room restrictions. For example, if you are at a coffee shop or such, you are going to need to know how big a table to reserve.

Meeting fellow epistlers:

I always make sure that all attendees sign my address book.  I will send them a snail mail and an email reminder of future socials.  I always get questions as to what happens at letter socials. It is just a bunch of people who get together and write letters typically in silence.  Every now and then, there is small talk about stationery, writing tools (we have someone who writes entire letters with a dip pen), where to find interesting postcards, and we all “ooh” and “ahh” over vintage stamps and washi tape.   Some like to showcase their handwriting and envelope art. Every now and then, someone brings a typewriter for people to use, and we have jokingly said we will have a speed typing test at a future meeting. I may not get a chance to do a lot of letter writing at the socials.  I make myself available to help anyone with letter writing prompts, or a letter recipient, or formatting an envelope. I will bring a few books to inspire letter writing.

Since we were at the library, I brought light snacks and bottled water.  I also brought supplies for anyone in need of them. As a thank you for coming, I gave them a stamp for their first letter written at the social (something I do at every social).   I am sure none of that was necessary, but I was taught to feed your guests. There was always someone offering to share their supplies too.

Challenges

After a while, I noticed a general waning in new faces at the letter socials, so I took a break from the library scene to figure out what it was I was genuinely trying to obtain from this.  I didn’t give up letter socials completely, as I held a “pop-up” letter social at coffee shops and eateries whenever I could. I considered it research. What I discovered was people enjoy receiving letters, and most think letter writing is a “cool” notion.  But not many want to invest in the art form by purchasing supplies, or they just prefer the instant gratification of electronic communications. I have also discovered from the community letter socials that some people don’t know how to write a letter, or how to address an envelope, or didn’t have anyone to write to.  The more I spoke to people, the more I realized that letter writing might be a dying form of communication (yes, I said it).

If you have any questions, you can contact Renée here.


Perhaps in this time of social distancing and isolation, people will pick up the pen again. Instead of another Zoom meeting or hours of screen time, they will discover or rediscover the art of letter writing, whether it is to a friend or family member that could be far or near away, or perhaps some kind words to a senior that is socially isolated during this pandemic. Reach out to your local seniors centre or care facility to see if you can help by sending a letter.

That’s a wrap

A heartfelt thank you to all of our members for making LetterMo 2019 a major success.

Our admins will be around, approving new member requests weekly — or as more often is the case this time of year — deleting spam accounts. We’ll also be clearing out inactive, older accounts to reduce the likelihood of spamsters with nefarious intents from gaining access via those accounts.

If you’ve signed up recently, please make sure you drop a hello on our 2019 Introduction thread. On the Postmaster end, your modest interaction within the forum makes it very easy for us to see who is engaging with our community.

We are always excited to hear when folks found great matches who intend to continue their correspondences throughout the year. We would like to remind you that any letter you received during February should be answered, no matter how long the interval between receipt and reply might be. Snail mail people, by virtue of their hobby, are patient folks.

We also remind our members that some folks intended to commit to the LetterMo Challenge only — meaning only answering mail generated in February.

If your original February letter was answered, but you sent a follow up in March or April, you might have to be a bit more patient — like February 2020. We understand that this confusion might be disappointing to some folks.

LetterMo Postmasters consider letters gifts, so we are simply thankful for what we receive and encourage our members to celebrate whatever mailbox bounty they collected this year.

If you are hoping to find additional pen pals who are eager to write currently, check with the various resources shared within our 2019 Forum and/or Facebook group.