Thursday, 1 July 2010

Letter writers block

I have noticed recently that there has been a lot of banter about writing long letters. Maybe it's always been the way with those who write letters, so many longing for kindred spirits who will reply to pages and pages with novellas of their own? I'm relatiely new to the scene, so I can only guess. I to have felt the distant pang of vague disappointment when a reply finds me at one single page, but I am also aware that my correspondence is all new, fresh and difficult. These early letters are a challenge. The anxiety of not wanting to write selfishly, or to come across as boring. Not knowing your new pen pal makes it difficult to know what they will find interesting in a letter and also makes it difficult to share those feelings and secrets we share with a partner of many months or years.

I love every single letter I receive, I enjoy every word written by each individual pen pal, because it is theirs and I value the time they give me by writing their letters immensely. Please don't misunderstand this post, don't feel worried that your letters aren't long enough! Each of you gives me something different from your precious paper packages, but they all bring me happiness, and that is more than enough :)

The point of this post is about my letters and what I would like to achieve...

My letters usually range from 4-6 A5 pages, I would classify this as a medium letter. My writing is smaller than most, but larger than some and I like to keep my lines tight. This means that when I think of trying to fill 4-6 A4 pages, my confidence crumbles a little. How many of my words would it take to fill such a vast amount of pages?? (I also struggle with the idea of writing on plain old lined paper... where do I find pretty A4 paper with narrow ruled lines?)

I believe it is the quality, not the quantity that makes a great letter. I hope that the recipients of my mail feel the same way too.

However, this doesn't stop me from wanting to become a long letter writer.

I don't believe I would write 'long' letters to every pen pal. Especially not in these early days of penfriendship. But I'd like to give it a go... here is where I need your help.

After spending some time working in Lyon, I'm struggling to write letters. I'm finding myself uninspired, a little bored and totally unmotivated. I blame my lack of motivation on the heat and humidity. It's unbearable. Seriously, the only respite I get is one or two hours in the early morning before the sun has risen above the rooftops. And it's only going to get worse :(

So, I'm struggling to find subject matter to write about.

I also struggle with my belief that I'm not a very exciting or funny person and have a fear that if I managed to write a long letter it would be a terrible experience for the recipient. Like having to read a boring book for school and finding your eyelids getting heavier with each line until you realise you've been napping for the past 20 minutes. I don't want to be that kind of penpal!

So, help help help! Even if you aren't a penpal of mine, I would love your input!! What would you like to read in a letter? Do you have any ideas for subject matter that I could really elaborate on, or examine in depth? Are you a long, medium or short letter writer? How do you find inspiration for interesting/funny/moving material?

I really would love to hear from you all, so I'm going to leave this as the latest post over the weekend.


  1. I like you, write around 4-5 A5 pages but it really depends on the person I am writing too. A short letter, a short response and vice versa and I don't mean that in a snotty way I think it just makes sense. Even if I had alot to say I think I would struggle writing a really long letter. Don't force yourself just see what comes easily. If your looking for new things to write maybe think about older experiences that have shaped your life and make you who you are and share that with your penpals.

  2. About what can you write:
    your dreams, your childhood memories, your first love, your highschool time, your life until now, the things happening around you, political stuff (if you are interested in it), news of the world, what you see around you, dreams of your night, and all those stuff. Their is always something to tell. ;)

  3. Megan, I too find my response depends on the length of the letter I'm replying too. I guess more than trying to force it, I want to challenge myself to see if I can write a 'long' letter or not... I like your ideas. Now just to shake off that insecure outer coat ;)

    Fabi, Thank you for your ideas! I have lots to work with now :)

  4. it's all about the quality of the letter! not quantity...although i love long letters as well. go with your heart and write about the things you want to write about...

  5. The letter will find its own length. Some will be a single topic, like a train, straight and steady. Some jump from act to act, like a circus. It's always fun to read stories: something you saw, or something that happened to you, or why a book or movie made you laugh or cry.

    Letters (and postcards) help us realize we're all the same... trying to make sense of a world that is sometimes crazy... trying to make peace with our failures, and make the best of our opportunities.

    what i do NOT like is the long, major-bragging (typically Christmas letter)... the summary of everyone's pulitzer prizes and scholarships and awards, without any acknowledgment of pain and challenges or mistakes, even fiascoes.

    Maybe it would be fun to hear about the 'stupidest thing you ever did'. I'm thinking... I might write to you about the stupidest thing I ever did! Nice blog. thanks.

  6. Dacry, I totally agree about the quality, which is why I don't want any of you to think I'm talking about your letters! I just want to challenge myself... because I know that I have lots of things to write about, but it's proving hard for me to find them and put them onto paper.

    Sue, Your comment is more comforting than you can know. I too often forget that I am the only one expecting me to be super human in my accomplishments... I think I could fill a book with the stupid things I've done! I would love to hear from you, thanks for stopping by :)

  7. I used to write many long letters... but now that there's email (which is free and easy), I'm become a terrible correspondent. A bit sad...

  8. That is terribly sad! I went through a long period of writing emails, but I much prefer the act of writing, sealing and sending that special little envelope of love and care :)