Wednesday, 1 February 2012

A month of letters challenge

I love letters - writing them, receiving them, cataloguing them, reading them - so was intrigued by an article in the Guardian today Writers bid to revive letter writing.  There are a few ideas in the article and one particularly appealed to me.  It's called A Month of Letters and the idea comes from an American author Mary Robinette Kowal.  She has started a blog and included a journal section on it where she will chart her progress and share tips and ideas.  The challenge is simple -
  1. In the month of February, mail at least one item through the post every day it runs. Write a postcard, a letter, send a picture, or a cutting from a newspaper, or a fabric swatch.
  2. Write back to everyone who writes to you. This can count as one of your mailed items.
Anyone who follows my Archives and Auteurs blog or my work blog will know I love mail and worry over what will happen with regards to the preservation of correspondence.  I know I'm being old-fashioned but I just can't see e-mails in the same way as letters - something is definitely lost.  Also of course there's the real worry about the preservation of e-mails.  I was going to say the ease of e-mails leads to too many as well - people just sending off quick e-mails about not much- but I quickly realised that is a bit of a silly statement as archive collections are as full of mundane, short letters back and forth making arrangements in the same way as any e-mail collection would be.  Similarly both paper and e-mail collections of correspondence will be full of long, detailed and interesting correspondence.  So, my real issue must be with the materiality.  In much the same was as I prefer vinyl to digital recordings, watching a 35mm print to a digital, I also prefer reading a letter to an e-mail.

On a more personal level there's the real joy in writing and receiving letters.  I like taking the time to sit and write to someone, knowing they won't receive it for a day or two, or longer if it's going abroad.  The happiness in coming home to mail sitting in the close makes me very happy.

recent postcard received from a friend

The challenge started today, the 1st of February, and whaddyaknow, I sent a postcard off this very morning.  This was before I'd read about the challenge so I didn't take a photo of it but it was a postcard showing 'Blaues Pferd' (the blue horse), a painting by Franz Marc.  Te postcard was bought by me in the home of the painting, the Lenbachhaus in Munich.  This was bought when I was 17 or 18 so the postcard is at least 15 years old!  I was visiting my Uncle in Munich with my brother and my Gran and it was a special holiday filled with great memories, and some not so great given that I took ill with glandular fever whilst I was there!  Asides from that though it was a very special trip, only my second time abroad, and I absolutely loved it.  I have a large drawer filled with stationery so why did I pick this card to send to a friend yesterday? well, she studies German and I know she likes to visit Germany so I thought she would appreciate that it's a German painting.  Now when I see The Blue Horse it always makes me think of that holiday with my brother and my gran. I wonder if the image will have any associations for her?  it's nice to put as much thought into what you send, or maybe what you send it in, as in the content itself.  For example I recently got a birthday card from one of my cousin's and I was very happy to get the card and read the message of good wishes inside.  However I have to admit to being as excited by the envelope as the stamp was one of the newly released series to celebrate the work of Roald Dahl and Quentin Blake!

So, don't worry I shan't be posting a photo of every letter/postcard I sent but I will do updates about the challenge.  I'm looking forward to taking a bit of time every day to write to someone I care about.
the stamps can sometimes be as exciting as the letters!