Sunday, 30 October 2011

Letter 3

This week I had a request from a lady from Postcrossing to be written to for this project. At first I was unsure because I couldn't decide if this project would be to just write to people I know, re-establishing communications, or whether it could be a penfriend project as well. In the end I thought in for a penny, in for a pound ... Post brings me a lot of pleasure ...

This week's letter has been posted to Canada now. It did feel quite strange to be writing to someone I don't know - what do you talk about? What do you mention? What do you leave out? This week was super busy as it was half-term and there were "Educational Trips" planned (btw I would definitely recommend the National Coal Mining Museum) so the letter turned into more of a diary of the start of the week. I find letter-writing can help you crystallise what you're thinking, and because it is a reflective activity, sometimes the brain has whirred and what you write can even surprise you.

It did also give me a chance to use some amazing TAPIR stationary I got in Japan 18 months ago. Tapirs are my favorite animal, and no one does amazing cute stationary like Japanese shops do ...

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Letter 2

Today was a FAILDAY (with a small success).

Bad news in the morning followed by that upset feeling that is very difficult to shake - where all problems and questions seem insurmountable and unanswerable and you may as well give up and begin a lifetime's hibernation. I hate feeling like that and dig myself further into the hole by saying things to myself like "I shouldn't be like this, I'm normally so upbeat" and so on. It's not very healthy. Luckily it doesn't actually happen very often and generally I cog along doing all the things and generally having a lovely life.

To this end, I did indeed fulfill last week's ambition and GO TO A CAFE to WRITE A LETTER. I took the last couple of hours of Failday and turned them right around (if you say that in a Dolly Parton voice, it sounds pretty good). The cafe I went to was called Jacobs and Field and is near where I'm part-time living in Oxford. I think they make all their own things and the staff are nice and polite and the coffee is good!
Part of this journey in letter-writing is to ensure that I take a bit of time for myself out each week. Coffee, cake and some new stationary (...sssh!) really helped to bring my day up a level. Below is a coconut and cherry cake, the writing necessities and a PEN THAT SMELLS OF WATERMELON ...
It is however the pen that smells, not the ink, which means your fingers then smell of synthetic watermelon. 

In terms of content (this isn't just a description of cafes what I have been to), last week I got a surprise letter from my godfather in Australia, so it seemed providential that this week I should write back. I love my Australian family very much. Weeks ago I printed a few pictures to send, so they are tucked in here too. (Last Christmas I included a photo with all of my thank you letters - I never heard anything, but I hope it was a good idea...)

I also thought a lot this week about letters I shouldn't write. Last week would have been an important day for someone no longer with us and for various reasons I had an urge to write a letter not born from fondness and love and having shared fun, but one to express disappointment (don't worry Mark, not to you) and a lot of negative feeling.

I am glad I didn't write such a letter. It would not have been a sharing, but an outpouring, and that's not the point. Letters, though they can stand alone in your hands, are inevitably part of a dialogue and should not (I think) fall back to soliloquy. Writer and recipient. Past and present. Oxford notepaper and watermelon-scented fingers ... small successes.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Letter 1

This is the first week of '52 Weeks of Mail'. What sort of a start did I get off to? Not what I intended ...

Part of my intention in doing this was to carve a bit of time out of my busy life to sit down, have a beverage, write a letter and contemplate. This was meant to happen on a Sunday or a Monday. It is now 00:35 on Thursday morning and I've just wrapped a PARCEL intended for the recipient. So posting is late this week. And I wrote the actual letter last night in bed at a very similar time. Ooooops!

However, the parcel is TOTES AMAZE and contains: a copy of the BFG, some Mars Bars and an inflatable. Who could this be for, you wonder? The recipient lives in the tropics and famously likes strong tea and once gave me a picture of Yoko Ono's front bottom (or was it her boobs?). When the parcel arrives, the identity will be revealed - perhaps? I'm not sure about it all really. Would you want someone writing about what they had written to you? It's gone a bit Bradshaw this late at night ...

I did very much enjoy writing the letter, and even though its composition didn't take place in the surroundings or with the stationary I wanted, it was fun. Next week, nevertheless, I am going to go somewhere glam and write on PROPER WRITING PAPER. Maybe even with a fountain pen?

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Wind's in the East ...

I'm about to start a new project and I think it'll be interesting to share.

52 Weeks of Mail is an idea set up by Etsy to encourage people to write more letters:

Basically you make a pledge to yourself to sit and write one letter a week to anyone for a whole year. You choose who you write to and what you write about. No one has to reply to you. There's no online tracking system. There's no spell checker. It's about your relationships with people and with the written word.

I love sending postcards ( and try to write, but most letters I write are thank you notes after birthdays and Christmas. This will encourage me to sit and take time to keep people in the loop! I have so many amazing friends and a wonderful family all around the world and I want this to help me keep in touch with them. (Liking a status does not a friendship make.)

Personally, I always find Autumn is the season that inspires the most changes in me. Last Autumn I took up running and tried (and failed) at a raw food diet. This autumn I'm having colonic irrigation (even I can't mess up being flushed) and doing this. Another reason is to encourage me to take time out of my hectic life to sit and be still. By taking time to write you a letter, I'll also be taking time for myself ...