“As you start to write, visualize the other person and talk to him, then write the words down. Write the sort of letter you would like to receive.” Helen Valentine & Alice Thompson Better than Beauty
I have long been a letter writing advocate. How I adored getting an envelope address to me, whether at camp or at home, a postcard from the shore or a card from my grandmother. Oh, and the love letters! My favorite. Every man I’ve ever loved has sent me love letters, many of which I still have. My boyfriend, Geza, who had silver eyes and jet-black hair, sent me a letter every single day when I was at the Silver Bay Young Writer’s Retreat, all full of the longing and poetry only a teenage boy can have. Martin wrote his in gold gel ink with J-Pop song lyrics, Catch with green ink and Sin City quotes, Mike in spidery ballpoint pen on loose leaf paper.
In college, Ian wrote me twice a week, packing his envelopes (which he made out of ads, because he’s an artist) with clippings and postcards and all sorts of goodies. My friend Liz and I primarily communicate with letters and have since we graduated. Our whole lives are written down for each other, records of our changing careers and movie star crushes, highs and lows, new boyfriends and new apartments. After all, you can’t send an Uglydoll in an email, like my friend Corey did to announce that, heck yeah, she was moving back to New York after five years working for NASA. (Yes, my friend is a rocket scientist).
A few years ago, I was at a conference in Bloomington and I met this guy, Jake. We wrote each other a few weeks worth of long emails before I suggested that we start writing letters. That was three years ago. In that time, I’ve read about his grad work and graduation, job searches and play rehearsals, meeting Anne, getting engaged to her and marrying her. We’ve never talked on the phone and only exchange emails when it’s something time-sensitive, but we know everything about each other’s lives just through words put on paper. We have this recorded history of each other when I, for the longest time, only had a vague recollection of what he looked like.
(Read his blog Video Game Underworld. It’s awesome. Somewhere I have the letter where he was asking me how he should do it.)
Find or make some awesome stationary (I made postcards out of CD liner notes with brown bag paper glued on the back) and write a letter to a friend. Ask them to write you back and get a pen-pal thing going. Get some kooky postcards (I have some Onion front pages that always get a laugh) and mail them to everyone you know, just for fun.