Month of Letters Success and Fun with Postcards

March 5, 2015 § 2 Comments

The challenge of a Month of Letters is to 1) mail at least one item each day the post runs during February (this works out to 23 items for those of us in the U.S. after accounting for four Sundays and one federal holiday); and 2) to write back to everyone who writes to you.

I accomplished neither of these goals.

However, during the month of February, I sent 24 pieces of mail and had only two unanswered letters in my queue on the 1st of March.  For me, this is an accomplishment.  Therefore, I’m declaring Month of Letters 2015 as a success since I found the (often elusive and definitely variable) letter-writing rhythm that worked for me.

I was already feeling good about Month of Letters, but it was nice to learn that I’m not alone in measuring success using unofficial metrics:

As the founder [of Month of Letters], I should totally have been able to send that much mail. I didn’t and I don’t feel badly about it because I still sent more mail than I would have without the Challenge. So I might not have won the challenge, but it was still successful for me.

Mary Robinette Kowal

Well said, don’t you think?  (That is hardly a surprise, though, given that Mary Robinette Kowal is very good at saying things.)

If you participated, I hope you, too, had a successful experience by whatever reckoning method suits for you.

I found postcards very helpful for increasing the amount of mail I sent last month.  As promised, I even put my art supplies to use and watercolored a set.  It was my first attempt at using masking fluid (inspired by Lindsey at The Postman’s Knock) and I was pretty pleased with the result.  I’ll definitely be refining my technique and making more.

201502_postcards

Continuing the postcard fun, I found this gem second-hand, with only one postcard missing.

201502_postcards2The contents lived up to the name and I am now well-stocked for those moments when only a tacky postcard will convey the proper sentiment.  How often does this happen, you ask?  You might be surprised!

Whether you’re trending elegant or tacky today, keep scribbling.

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Month of Letters: Time for the Art Supplies!

February 10, 2015 § 4 Comments

It’s day ten of A Month of Letters.  I’m writing my 11th letter of the month tonight, so I’m in good shape to meet the challenge of mailing 23 items by the end of February.  I’ve written every day and posted something every day the mail has run – several birthday cards, a sympathy note, replies to a few letters that have been patiently waiting, a couple postcards with slice-of-life stories, and a “thank-you” for a lovely visit with a lovely friend.

For the next round of letters, the art supplies are coming out.  Lindsey of Postman’s Knock inspired me to buy some art masking fluid and it has arrived.  A new art adventure for me!  Fun will be had by all, which is to say me and, hopefully, whoever finds my creations in their mailboxes.

How to Write a Letter a Little at a Time; or It’s Okay to Be a Slow Letter Writer

June 25, 2013 § 12 Comments

I recently received a letter from a dear friend.  She said she’d been meaning to get around to writing for months and noted, “I need some kind of Scribbling Glue post on how to write a little at a time.”

Wait.

I started this post with a misleading statement.

When I said “recently received,” I actually meant “received and haven’t yet replied to.”

The letter in question arrived 57 days ago.

I know that casts doubt on my credibility to offer advice about being a more efficient letter writer.  Let me add to my dubious credentials by saying something that may be seen as letter writing heresy: it’s okay to be a letter writer who does not reply immediately.

A few weeks ago, PostMuse lamented:

I respectfully disagree — I ask you, who wouldn’t want to write to PostMuse after admiring her amazing orphaned postcard database?!  Besides, letter writers love to write letters.  And that feeling of guilt over a letter that sits and waits for attention?  We’ve been there, too, so we don’t mind waiting a bit for replies to arrive.  We write to share and to connect.  We write because we enjoy it, not because it’s an obligation.  Taking the time to contemplate a response or wait for creative inspiration is okay.*

Now–having fessed up to my own sometimes slowness and shown my solidarity with everyone who’s ever agonized over a letter languishing in the “reply to” pile–on to the requested post!

How to Write a Letter a Little at a Time

  1. Keep your pens, papers, and other necessaries easily accessible.  If you know you’re going to have to run around finding supplies before you can start, it might feel like too much work for just a little bit of writing.

    Portability is part of why this works for me.

    Portability is part of why this works for me.

  2. Make sure you have space to write.  My desk currently has a sewing machine sitting on it which renders it useless as a writing surface.  While I can (and do) write on the couch, sitting on the floor, and at the dining room table, clutter or other projects-in-progress can derail my intention to write.

    sewingdesk

    Lovely in its own right, but not conducive to letter writing.

  3. Find and make use of odd minutes here and there.  Before you check your email, fold the laundry, read your book, or put on a movie, write a little bit of your letter.  Even if you only get down the salutation and your first two sentences, you’ll have accomplished the goal of writing a little bit at a time.  Repeat regularly.
  4. Start, then start again, and again.  Eventually, you’ll find the rhythm of a little bit here and a little bit there that works best for you.

And now, I’m off to take my own advice.

_____

* Are there letters that should be answered promptly?  Yes, of course.  Should you strive to send celebratory notes in advance of special occasions?  Absolutely.  But it’s also okay to cut yourself some slack when you fail to be a perfect and prompt correspondent.  Are there people who will be affronted at a slow response?  Sure.  As in any type of relationship, not every letter writer will mesh with every other one.  If a discrepancy in response time exists and distresses one party, it may be best to address it frankly and make a decision about whether or not to continue corresponding.  It’s nothing against either writer, just a gracious acknowledgement that the correspondence isn’t mutually agreeable for both people.

To Grow More Letter Writers, Just Add Books

April 13, 2013 § 4 Comments

If you are a letter writer who is a) enthusiastic about books and b) interested in encouraging young letter writers (and potential letter writers), this post is for you!  Grab your library card–it is safe to assume that most letter writers have library cards in good standing, isn’t it?–and go find these books:

Book Cover of Mailing May by Michael O. Tunnell

In 1914, classified as a baby chick and under the care of a railway postal clerk who was also her mother’s cousin, five-year-old May was stamped with 53¢ of postage and mailed to her grandmother.  Based on a true story.

Will the Great never gets any mail until he takes matters into his own hands. Along the way, he eats a lot of cereal and learns how the postal system works. (Added bonus: there’s a checklist in the back of this book to help you get started creating mail magic of your own.)

Book cover of Mule Train Mail by Craig Brown

In the village of Supai, which is located at the bottom of the Grand Canyon, mail is delivered by mule train. Since 1896 skilled muleteers have led mules on the eight mile trip from the top of the canyon to the small village where they deliver mail and other necessities. Based on a true story.

Once you have the books in hand, find your favorite kids and start reading.  Have your papers and your pens, your stamps and your stickers at the ready.  There’s a good chance that it won’t be long before inspired letters are waiting to be posted.

Write a Letter to the Pigeon

September 30, 2012 § 2 Comments

I love this idea so much.  So much!

Lexington Park Library has recently implemented a new learning center for kids that is centered around creating and delivering mail.  When they visit the library, kids are encouraged to write letters to well-known characters from children’s books.  After the letters are written, the writer hand-delivers the letters to the mailboxes that are mounted in different places around the department.  There is even a letter carrier costume for kids to wear when they are delivering the letters.

Building literacy skills + writing to story book characters + playing letter carrier = nothing but WIN!

Dabbling in Making Stuff

August 4, 2012 § 5 Comments

I am more a writer than an artist.  I still marvel at how illustrators, comic book artists, and others with that incredible set of spacial-visual skills can replicate the same character repeatedly.  My own forays into art tend to be one-off creations and it’s not uncommon for me to feel like I don’t quite manage to capture how the idea looked inside my head.  But I like making stuff.

Here are some of my recent creations:

 

Cutting and pasting is just my style.  What’s yours?

Scribbling Good: Make the World a Better Place

June 19, 2012 § Leave a comment

Lately I’ve come across a number of letter writing-related opportunities to do good in the world.  As a result, I’ve added a new page to the blog so I can compile projects into a quick reference for anyone looking to do a daily good deed while also writing notes, sending packages, and generally spreading sunshine.

Without further ado, I am pleased to announce:
Take a look, let me know about other great projects I should add, and make today’s daily good deed a postally inspired one!

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