I really love writing letters.
I say this even though, for the most part, I type them and, for the most part, I’ve written very few letters over the years. Last year, for example, I wrote twenty-nine.
Which, I admit, upon counting up does seem rather like a lot. Except when compared to the master letter writers of the past, such as Thomas Jefferson who wrote more than twenty thousand letters. In order to get to that level of letter-writing, I’d have to keep up my current output for a little less than a thousand years.
I could do it. Even without his wonderful machine.
The reason I bring this all up is that I was thinking about doing another experiment a la A Year Of Living Bloggily, in this case (don’t jump ahead, even if you already know what I’m going to say, because that’s just rude) A Year Of Living Letterily which, like the previous A Year Of, would involve writing a letter a day for a year. There are a few people I have regular letter contact with, including my mom and my aunt Bobbi, but I’d run out of those people relatively quickly and so would have to start mining my address book and my distant (or nearby, I’m not particular) friendslists.
(p.s. if you want to be included in the “letters from andrew” project, please notify said andrew in some manner that, ideally, would include an address forthwith to having things posted there. things being letters.)
I’ve decided against an “official” A Year Of because the last one (I blame you, Blog!) ended up taking away a lot of time from my actual writing (though whether said writing spent on blog would be writing spent on writing is debatable). Since the project involved writing a blog post a day, it meant that I had to write a blog post whether I did anything else or not, which often meant writing the blog post first, and then accepting laziness afterwards. Overall, I wrote over 24oK words on blogs in the year, the same amount that would equal out to about three novels, if I’d put the words in a different order (and probably used different words as well).
I suppose the question is, “Why do I want to write letters at all?”
Well, I’m glad you asked. The answer is twofold:
1. I’m fascinated with letters that artists and writers wrote in the past, usually to each other (at least those are the ones that get wrapped up into book form). I’ve always seen letters as snapshots of the state of my mind. I hope that in writing letters I make the workings of my mind clear, to myself and to the person I’m writing to. And I suppose I just want to (eventually) be one of those writers with interesting exchanges layered out over the world (which is probably also why I print my letters on old drafts).
1a. When I first started writing letters (back in senior year of high school, writing people I’d met over the summer at the Governor’s School) I wasn’t convinced that I had anything interesting to say. What I decided what that even if I didn’t have anything interesting to say, at least I could say it in an interesting fashion. I’d write in circles. Doodle. Make the text a random sort of puzzle to figure out, so that at least the recipient’s brain was working (even if what it was working to figure out mightn’t have been worth the figuring, or so I figured). Now that’s a little less the case, partly because I type out my letters (to have records of them) and so doodling, random formatting, etc., is more difficult.
2. I’m not the best person for keeping in touch with those who are far away. I end up being really focused wherever I am (which is one reason I’ve never been homesick) and so make friends quickly with those who live close by and focus on them as well. Not that I don’t miss those who are far away — okay, actually, exactly because I don’t miss them. But I still love those people, and want to keep in contact, to know what’s going on in and through their lives, and so letters. They are an artistic, thought-investment.
So, in short, no A Year Of. But still letters. I’m averaging about three a week. Want to receive (and who doesn’t?), then let me know.