Monday 6 March 2017

March malaise

February was fun and frantic with the daily letter writing frenzy... but now that is over, the buzz has finally left me feeling a bit melancholy now it is over for another year. Mail will still arrive written in February (it hasn't been a whole week yet) and there are letters awaiting a response from me. I have slowed down my replies but I will continue with them (they still give me joy and happiness but I need to be in the mood / frame of mind to write the letters).

On the social media side of things, it has gone all but quiet. I wonder how many of those who put their address up on the official InCoWriMo website checked the Disqus comments regularly. Not a great percentage, I would say. On InCoWriMo-2017, there are still some addresses up until no later than November 1st (although mine is no longer displayed). 

There have been stories elsewhere of people being quite overwhelmed with the quantity of letters received, but others not so lucky.. I wrote a few surprises and have received more besides. Some of the surprises were random - scrolling up and down the address book with eyes closed until I stopped then chose an address from those shown. Others I had chosen because I'd seen comments there/elsewhere/Instagram.

As for the first letters themselves, there is a variety, and of varying interest. In the past, I have received letters I would say were exceptionally boring, but I still thanked the person for the letter. Perhaps they hadn't written letters in a very long time so didn't know what to write. I was amongst them when I restarted penpalling in 2007/8. I guess my letters could have been incredibly boring as not all of them even yielded a reply (they can't all have gotten lost).   The first letter is currently being discussed on the forum. and I hope to write a blog post in the coming weeks about it. 

Elsewhere, there has been heated debate, possibly now deleted, about the sending of the SAME first letter (variation only with the appropriate recipient name in the greetings and salutation, and date) no matter who they are sending to. There are also people who send the SAME continuing letters to people no matter who they are with no response to items raised by those getting the reply. I like to call these NEWSLETTERS although others refer to them as FORM letters. Form letters are more often-than-not typed (copy and paste, or just fill in the form to add a name & date), and so many people do not want typed correspondence for fear it is not written especially for them. 

Wednesday 1 March 2017

Updated - What can you write about in letters?

One of the questions I have been asked by non-letter writers is, "What do you write about in letters?" My answer is almost anything and everything, although it depends on who it is you are writing to. Topics generally avoided are - Religion (faith can be personal, and may also be divisive), Politics (some politicians this year have said things I think are hurtful, racist, sexist or just plain silly), and Sex (yes please ;) -  I drafted the original of this blog post on paper and drew the wink however my drawing looks evil). However, anything else is generally fine. Talk about roast turkey should be kept at a minimum with vegetarians, and should also avoid telling them about your child's dissection of a sheep's heart in science class at school (some brought in cooked or frozen hearts...). Make sure the letter is not all about you. This may be difficult for the first letter you send to a new penpal - I will cover this in a separate post soon.

Speaking of days, it doesn't matter if you can't finish a letter in a single sitting/day. I tend to write the new date when I continue on a different day, even if it is just after midnight. It is a good idea, especially if you write internationally, the name of the month and not its number - today's date is 01/03/17. In the UK, this means 1st March 2017, however, elsewhere it may be read as January 3rd 2017. 

You can talk about family - sometimes, they can be annoying. You can pick your friends, pick your nose but can't pick your family. Penpals can be great listeners - there's time to think and craft responses. Have we all, in speech, said something possibly hurtful without thinking? We may be able to offer advice and suggestions, or just provide a shoulder. It might not be good to keep things bottled up inside, however not every penpal would want to hear about your woes. There'll be close penpals, friendly penpals, acquaintances who are correspondents, akin to friendship in the 3D world (I didn't want to use "real world" because to me, penfriendship is still real friendship).

Some letters I've received have had me in fits of laughter. Laughter, after all, is the best medicine! You could admit to doing silly things - I once put sugar on my chips (fries) instead of into my cuppa (at least salt didn't go into the wrong place). Some people write diary letters but that's OK in moderation. What happens to you on a particular day can be of interest to your penpals but they don't need to know every detail of your day. The sometimes silly Five Questions.... challenge over on A World of Snail Mail can be cathartic, and maybe take you down memory lane. Now, which leg did I put in my trousers this morning?