A Letter in February

Writing.ie | Member Blog

Chris Mills

This month any writing that I do will have to incorporate the annual letter writing challenge, A Month of Letters organised by Mary Robinette Kowal. I have written before on Writing.ie about doing the challenge, which I discovered quite by chance three years ago. The challenge has only been running since 2010 so I almost got in on the ground floor, so to speak. I didn’t do so well last year, so I am gearing up to write plenty of billets doux this year. I even have a list, and if I have a list then I am already half way there. My innovation this time around is to put names into a hat and draw one each day instead of agonising over the order in which to send letters.

I love writing and receiving letters, particularly in the often-dreary early part of the year when Christmas already seems a distant memory. When I say I love writing letters, what I really mean is that I love writing them once I actually get started. How to begin a letter is often the thing that stymies my good intentions. I do not mean the ‘dear so and so’ but the first paragraph, nay the first line to get me into the flow. Sometimes it can feel awkward because these days I often email, text or send Facebook messages. My letter writing skills can seem rusty indeed. However, once I get past that opening section then there is no stopping me. I do need to concentrate to ensure that my handwriting does not stray too far into complete illegibility as I scribble away.

The great thing about the February challenge is that you don’t actually have to send a letter. It can be a postcard, a short note, in fact anything that will go into an envelope and brighten someone’s day. There are many ways of communicating with friends and family. On the website, Kowal suggests that you might even send a fabric swatch or a feather. She writes, ‘Whatever it is, let yourself step away from the urgency of modern life and think about an audience of one. Think of it as sending 23 little gifts. And, who knows, you might enjoy going to the mail box again.’

Now, let’s see who is going to be the next lucky recipient…

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