Category Archives: Blog/Journal

Blogs, Articles and Journal Entries by Lettermo Contributors

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?

The Month of Letters, featuring my agent

If you are a writer seeking an agent AND participating in the Month of Letters Challenge, let me tell you about a neat thing. My agent, Jennifer Jackson, is offering to respond with letter to one randomly chosen query letter per business day. That’s right. A  personal response, mailed back with feedback on either the query itself or the concept of the novel.

In support of this endeavour, I am offering a special query letter #LetterMo. Due to the nature of this proposal, the kind and beneficent Mary Robinette Kowal has given me a variance on rule #2 (see official site here and sign up to participate in the challenge). I will only be responding to the queries received once and not engaging in additional correspondence (unless, of course, I request your manuscript).

I highly recommend Jenn as an agent. She’s been great with Shades of Milk and Honey and my other projects.

For full details, go over to The Month of Letters Challenge | Et in arcaedia, ego. And for heaven’s sake, read the guidelines.

Day 2 of Month of Letters

Did you mail something yesterday? It was strangely exciting, wasn’t it.  I think it is the anticipation of knowing that the letter is in transit. Because I’m a fantasy writer, I think of it almost as the potentiality that starts when a magician casts a spell.

In another day or so, someone else will open their mail box and get a thrill of delight, which you caused. How is that not like magic?

Yes, yes, yes… we understand the mechanics of how the letter gets from Point A to Point B but that’s not the magic bit. What’s magic is that a simple act begun in one part of the world can create happiness at another time and another place.

Let me give a concrete example: I’m in Seattle right now, on a trip, and I’m sending a postcard to my husband even though I will beat it home today. It won’t say anything that I can’t say to him when I get there, but it will mark a point in time where I thought of him with a tangible marker.

That’s part of the magic.

When you write today, think about recording a moment in time. Cast a spell.

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Welcome to the first day of The Month of Letters

I know what you might be thinking… depending on where you are, it could still be January 31, but in Australia people are already starting to send their missives.

You can send anything. A letter, a postcard, a ticket from a movie you saw with a note jotted on the back… You can hold something in your hands, put it in a little box, and then somewhere else the person you were thinking of can hold the same thing. It’s sort of amazing, when you think about it. Sometimes starting the letter is difficult, but let me share with you some advice from Hill’s Manual of Business and Social Forms, published back in 1879.

The expression of language should as nearly as possible be the same as the writer would speak. A letter is but a talk on paper. The style of writing will depend upon the terms of intimacy existing between the parties… In your letter be yourself write as you would talk.

There is a tendency to overthink before putting pen to paper because it seems more permanent somehow than a computer screen. There is no delete key. Don’t fret. The letter you are sending will delight the recipient simply because you thought of them. The little bobbles simply prove that you are not a robot.

Be yourself.  Are you ready?

 

Month of Letters Participant Stickers

Participant Vicki Stephens created some Month of Letters Participant Stickers to show her correspondents that she’s taking part in the Challenge. What’s more, she’s making those stickers available to you through a .pdf download. You just need a sheet of sticker paper or regular paper and a gluestick.

Just a reminder, these are NOT postage. Please do not put them on the front of the letter so that the letter carriers aren’t confused.

Download the Month of Letters Challenge Calendar

If you are looking for a way to organize your Month of Letters Challenge, we have a calendar for you.

Participant Richelle had said,

“I printed up a calendar and am filling in the days with people I want to write! I have a big stash of stationary I am hoping I can finally use. I may have to break the rules and send more than one a day. So many people I want to write!”

That was a brilliant idea, so I made a calendar page that you can print out to help plan your letter writing. (Oh, it’s not breaking the rules to send more than one thing a day.)

Download the Month of Letters Calendar for February, 2012 as a pdf. Thanks for the suggestion, Richelle.

Welcome and a confession

Allow me confess that I am surprised, and delighted, by how many people seem to be excited by the Month of Letters challenge. I had thought that, if people seemed interested, that I would make a website for the challenge next year. La! Perhaps this year is a better idea.

However, that does mean that you are arriving at a website that is half-baked. I can see the need for a central location, but will need your help in understanding what the community needs. So stop in the Forums, poke around the tête-à-tête.

Let me know what you are interested in.

Oh, and get ready to send some mail.

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