Correspondence

My tally of letters written since 30th October is now seventy-two. They average four pages each and perhaps 700 words. So that’s about 50,400 words so far. Today is 21st November: this is good progress.

This morning I wrote to my grandmother. I am far away and living in another country. She is 101 and a half years old. In recent days, I have also written to each of my daughters – the older one, sent me her address, with a question attached…….’ do I need to be worried?’ No. She doesn’t – but it is interesting that because I want to write and this deviates from our norm of text, Skype, phone, meeting……… it evoked some anxiety that there was something bad, or wrong or worrying to convey….. there isn’t.

With the project ‘Correspondence’, I have had the aspiration to write a minimum of 365 letters – one per day, every day of the year from the 9th of July 2014 – 8th July 2015. I began by leaving hand-written letters in shops, in books, in bars, restaurants….. random places. It didn’t work. I gather people considered me too random…. the stuff that stalkers and scammers are made of perhaps – too high up the ‘Perceived Weirdness Index’ as Jonno Hannafin would say. Fair enough.

I changed tack. Maybe people would respond if they knew me a bit….. if they met me………..When I was doing readings, I began to say what I was doing and to let people know that if they wanted a letter from me, to tell me that, to give me their address and I’d respond…… traction at last.

I lost a bit of momentum for a while – it’s understandable…. I moved house twice, moved to a new country and got married again…..since the 4th of July this year – life has been a tad eventful let’s say.

I was resistant to resorting to social media, but a message on Facebook evoked a host of requests from friends and acquaintances….. wonderful…. and I guess, a presence on Facebook and the existence of a network, however virtual reduces the ‘weirdness index’ just enough. The paradox nonetheless, is that social media, is one of the factors which means we write fewer letters…..in this case it has worked in my favour.

Still……. I have some way to go to hit my 365 minimum target….. Recent weeks have given me the opportunity to give the project some welly. If someone asks for a letter, I will send one….if they respond again I will respond. There are a few exceptions – friends I have wanted to contact and catch up with, so there are a few in there that are direct from me to them, without a request. One has been a ‘referral’, where a fellow poet suggested a friend of hers. All grand. I am open to that. No-one has to respond – it can be a one-off contact or I will accept further requests… but those who do write will always get a response from me.

Some things are beginning to arrive from people too and while writing back is not a requirement – for sure the inbox is beginning to look populated and interesting. More another time about that though.

In the interim….. nominate yourself or someone you know who could do with a letter and I will write to them.

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