For the last 2 years I’ve taken part in LetterMo, which is short for Month of Letters. Conceived by writer Mary Robinette Kowal, LetterMo is pretty straightforward: every day that the postal service in your country of residence is operating, you are supposed to mail an item. It could be a postcard, an article from a magazine, a cool photo, a letter, a Post-it note…doesn’t really matter. The second part is that for every letter/note you receive, you respond. Kowal is one savvy lady, so she chose February for LetterMo because it’s a short month AND her birthday is in February. (We share a birthday, actually. *fistbump*)
As I’ve said on the blog before, I love mail. Postcards, long-winded letters, typewritten Christmas letters – I love ’em all. Momcat taught me that sending mail often guarantees you’ll get a response, so hardly a week goes by that I’m not mailing off a note or postcard to a friend or family member. Sadly, very few folks write me back on a regular basis. It’s probably because of that newfangled BookFace thing, where you can click a button and tell someone you like their photo of the cream of broccoli soup they had for dinner, or click something else and you’ve shared that photo with all the people inside that whatsit whosit thing. It’s witchcraft, I tell you. WITCHCRAFT.
But seriously. Check out the LetterMo website and sign up. It’s the most fun you’ll have for less than 50 cents a day.
So when I heard about the Month of Letters Challenge through some friends on a social network, I was intrigued. When I read the post about it on novelist Mary Robinette Kowal’s website, I was excited. And I decided to participate.
The two-part concept is simple: for every day in February that the postal service runs in your area, mail something. It could be a letter, a note, a clipping from a magazine or newspaper, a photo, a postcard. You can mail something to your next-door neighbor or to someone on the other side of the world. Part two of the challenge is to write back to everyone who writes to you. The bonus is that mailed replies count toward your final tally for the month.
I confess, this will probably be fairly easy for me, since I’ve been in the habit of sending postcards and notes and cards to people for the past year. But there are a few letters I have wanted to write and haven’t, for whatever silly reason, so the Month of Letters Challenge is my incentive to finally write that letter to my childhood friend who lives in Europe with her husband and three daughters.
For those who want to participate but are slightly daunted, fear not. I have provided you with some pro tips:
On a budget? Check your local thrift shop for like-new, unused postcards and stationery. I’ve scored a large number of postcards from all over the world by going to my SPCA Thrift Store and perusing the stationery/postcard section. Sometimes used cards sneak into the available selection, so check first before buying.
Hate your handwriting? You’re allowed to type your letters. Just no emailing. I’m watching you. But consider this: the more you write things by hand, the better your handwriting gets. Unless you’re a doctor.
Get some nice writing tools. I am addicted to office supplies, so I don’t need another incentive to go to Office Depot, Staples, or Office Max. Trust me when I say a fabulous pen can make all the difference when it comes to handwriting letters. If you can afford a Waterman or Mont Blanc fountain pen, go for it. (Hint: Lamy fountain pens are fairly inexpensive and write nicely.) Otherwise look for a pen that has nice heft to it and doesn’t make your fingers cramp. I am a fan of Dr. Grip pens, which come in ballpoint and gel ink. I also like Sharpie pens – they are acid free and don’t bleed through paper.
Don’t know what to write?Get creative. Relay a funny story about your pet or your child. Share one of your favorite recipes. Transcribe a poem. List five things in a random category, such as favorite movies starting with the letter C, books that changed your life, or your least favorite foods. Hint: using postcards or small notecards means you have much less space to fill up with text.
Join me, won’t you? It should be a lot of fun. You have a day to go buy stamps and find some decent stationery. And if you need some pen pals for the month, check out the forums on the official Month of Letters Challenge website.
A few weeks ago, I sent this postcard to a dear friend of mine who I knew would appreciate the sentiment stated on the card. Then I considered how happiness is so many, many things, and not just consuming chocolate. So I whipped out my extra-fine-point Sharpie and got to work adding more to the card. Below you’ll find my extended definition of happiness.
having a glass of really good wine
reading a wonderful novel in front of a roaring fire on a cold day
a hearty belly laugh with a friend
a cat sleeping in your lap
listening to a rainstorm from a covered porch
singing really loudly with the car radio with all the windows down while sitting in traffic
getting a great pedicure and a massage
the smell of suntan lotion on your skin
unexpected money in the mail
fresh ripe berries that you picked yourself
a perfectly blended Arnold Palmer with just the right amount of ice
seeing someone you love fall in love for the first time
hearing a new mother sing to her baby
the crack of a metal bat against a baseball at a Little League game
being greeted by a tail-wagging dog when you come home from a long day
sneaking out at midnight to skinny dip
catching fireflies with a 7-year-old
seeing your favorite painting in person for the first time
the smell of a barbecue
the anticipation of fireworks on Independence Day
being kissed under a starry sky
having someone tell you the positive influence you had on their life
a Popsicle dripping on your hand when it’s 99 degrees