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?

13 thoughts on “Day Five OR Holy priceless stamp collection, Batman! That’s a lot of mail.”

  1. Hello Mary.
    Last year I participated in 52 weeks/52 letters blog challenge and I went from an occasional letter writer to an addict! My final tally was 229 pieces of mail leaving my hands in 2011. I have become a ‘good mail day’ fan and have met some wonderful people in the mail to share mail art and notes with. These folks stimulate my creativity, encourage me and often are voracious readers and introduce me to new titles to read. A very fun addiction!
    I was excited to see your challenge and it was a great way to warm up 2012. I have sent out 9 letters by Feb 4 and am always looking for new pals. Email me:
    Have a wonderful day !

  2. finally I have sent my first mail – a Christmas card to my cousin in Georgia, wishing her and her family a belated Happy Chinese New Year; no matter what time of year, there’s usually something to celebrate

  3. I am participating and have dragooned a bunch of my friends from Ravelry into participating with me. (Insert evil laugh here.)

    Thank you so much for this project; back before email, I always communicated with my friends via letter. If I get some regular pen pals out of this I will be thrilled, and in the meantime I’m just enjoying the experience of breaking out the fountain pens and nice paper and writing letters!

  4. I’m also enjoying the process of writing to my friends and family and not expecting anything in return. Over the years I’ve always been the one to send cards and packages so this is just an extension of that habit. Kinda like Christmas in February where I’m sending everyone another note to let them know we miss and love them. Thanks for the inspiration!

  5. I am loving this. I have been looking for “extra” people to write to that may not be on my list of regular letter writing. I am combining this with Mailart 365 and the Write More Love Letters project. Trying to recruit some friends, too.

  6. I think the main reason I stopped writing letters was that I would overthink them – I wanted all my correspondence to be the most thrilling, informative, witty interestesting think the recipient had ever read. Looking back on letters I’ve saved over the years, it’s the ones describing the mundane that I cherish. Participating in this challenge with postcards has made me approach correspondence differently – just get something out there and don’t worry about what it is!

  7. It takes me ages to write a postcard for Postcrossing! Maybe 5 mins or more to choose, write, address and then find nice stamp(s) for it (by the way, did you know that there is a stamp licking record? I can’t remember how many stamps were licked in what time period… but I couldn’t even match it!).

  8. I took the very considerate opportunity to use my day six LetterMo for Jennifer Jackson, sending a query package. I haven’t done that in ages! Double the sense of accomplishment there. Today, my letter is on its way to South Dakota. I’m just skipping along with one letter (or package – I sent a hand-knitted scarf to my sister) at a time, but no matter. I’m sticking to it, and having fun!

  9. Is it just me, or has asking for someone’s mailing address begun to feel odd, almost intrusive? (Amounting as it generally does to “Tell me where you live.”) I don’t remember this being the case when I was younger.

    I want to make myself a sheet of Letter Month stickers to put on envelopes. 🙂

  10. I am loving it! I have been moving in fits and spurts (meaning I don’t necessarily get the mail to the mailbox each day, but I have written something each day – sometimes they just get sent in twos and threes), but I am enjoying sending cards/letters out to people I haven’t kept in contact with as much as I would have liked. My daughter, 5 years old, has been watching me for the last several days and asked if she could write cards to grandma and grandpa! On the outside (thankfully not on the address side) she wrote: too grandma, fum Anna! So cute! 🙂

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