[Wayback Repost] Reacquainting after a long silence

This post was originally published on February 19, 2013. It’s reappearing today as a Wayback Repost, so you might see some old comments below. Feel free to continue the conversation!

I was thinking about you this week, while I was off at a writer’s retreat. Besides all of the novels and short stories that were in process, a number of the guests were also Month of Letters participants. Even some who weren’t got into the fun and wrote a couple of letters while there. As we start the last full week of the Month of Letters 0204121208-00Challenge, it occurred to me that one of the wonderful things that a letter will allow you to do is to reconnect with someone from your past. Perhaps this is a teacher that influenced you, or maybe a friend that you’ve just fallen out of touch with.

Why not take a moment to get back in touch?

Does that feel awkward? Perhaps. So allow me to offer some suggestions.

Don’t feel like you have to open with an apology for the long silence. Everyone knows that life happens. Start out, instead, by letting them know that you were thinking about them. Be specific. “I’m having a cup of coffee and remember how we used to hang out at our favorite coffee spot” or “It’s snowing outside right now. Remember how we used to have snow ball fights?”

Tell them a little of what’s been happening in your life, but don’t feel like you need to cover everything. There will be time for that later. Pick one or two highlights that you wished you’d had the opportunity to share at the time. “I finished editing the UK edition of Shades of Milk and Honey this week” or “I went to Grandma’s 108th birthday party, which was such fun.”

And then– this is important — ask them questions. “I’ve been wondering about you since your move. How do you like Seattle?” or “You used to give the best book recommendations. Read anything good lately?” or “How’s your mom?”

Finally, don’t be disappointed if they don’t write a letter back. In fact, include alternate contact information to make it easy for them to get back in touch with you. A letter is a wonderful thing, but it can be intimidating too. You remember that, don’t you? The purpose of your letter is to reestablish contact, so do your best to make it easy for them.

So how was your week while I was away? I was thinking about you.

8 thoughts on “[Wayback Repost] Reacquainting after a long silence”

  1. Great post! I’m writing a letter to my grandfather this week… Not that we ever kept in touch, but I haven’t seen him once a year like I did when I was a kid. I think he WILL write back, too– I’m not sure he even ever uses the telephone, much less email.

  2. Funnily enough I was just thinking along these self-same lines earlier today – getting back in REGULAR touch with a friend I used to write to a few years ago. Nearly 15 years ago my friend and penpal M. used to write to me and as we had the same passion of nature our letters used to be 20+ pages long! Then life got in the way….boyfriendsa, moving house a few times, babies and we somehow lost touch which did sadden me a lot. The silly thing was, I still had her address and I wrote to her about four years ago when we first moved up to Northumberland to let her know what was going on in my life etc and we’ve sent each other Christmas cards ever since….but I’ve often longed to get back to that joy of lovely loooong letters about orchids and watching dolphins and fox cubs and the excitement of seeing the summer birds and butterflies returning…
    The days just seemed to fly past and still I never wrote…..until this wonderful Month Of Letters began and sparked my letter writing back into life! I no longer feel that I have writers block and have that awful feeling of the mind going blank once you’ve written the address or date at the top of that blank piece of paper. Today I have written THREE letters….once that would have been a busy WEEK, never mind day! The letters and words are just flowing and I’m already mulling over ideas of what to write about to M and hopefully we can recapture that joy that we both had so many years ago. Actually, just remembered, it’s M’s birthday next Wednesday so what better reason to write?

  3. Yes! I have a few people that I’ve been planning to write to. Just last week I sent Valentine’s to a couple of friends who I had lost touch with. Thank you for reminding me how important all of it is! It is so easy to do it and then forget that it means something, that it wasn’t just another task ticked off the list. Every day we do so much to connect and communicate with the people around us and it is so easy to take it all for granted.

  4. One of my favorite parts about LetterMo has been the reconnection with people from my past. Each year there has been a little bit more – sometimes people don’t write back, or only have the energy to return one piece of mail, but I’ve established some new connections with a couple of people from college and even high school that have proven really valuable.

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