xoPENPALS CHECK IN: How's The Letter Writing Going?

I hope your mailbox is happy!

Jun 2, 2014 at 5:00pm | Leave a comment

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My mailbox is a happening place.

Back in February, xoPenPals kicked off -- and, seriously, did it ever kick off. I've heard from loads of you who are sending and receiving a veritable flurry of mail. And that's exactly what I was hoping for.

But I also wanted to check in; not all penpal waters are smooth and without waves. How's it going for you? Are you stoked to have met new people and sent new letters or are you struggling with what to write and how often?

For my status, whew, April was not good when it comes to letter writing. I wrote so many letters in February and March that I wrecked my wrists! And then I had to take some time off. I'm super glad to have recovered -- but also, please, learn from my pain. If you've got any RSI issues, take plenty of breaks and take your time. It's probably also a good idea to type some letters. Be gentle with yourself -- your penpals will understand.

(This is why I'm looking for an electric typewriter with a script typewheel right now!)

And, uh, if I owe you a letter, I promise that it's coming. Slowly. But it's coming.

In other xoPenPal resource news, there's now a Facebook group. I'm awful at Facebook, so I'm just going to tell you to search for "xoPenPals" -- an enthusiastic letter writer created it recently and I wanted to make sure to mention it here. It's very small right now but all it needs to change that is you! 

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This is my most recent stack of letters I've written replies to. It's growing.

At first the idea of a Facebook group to support a penpal group seemed weird to me. But I joined the League of Extraordinary Penpals after some of you recommended it -- and they've got a very active Facebook group. Like, they're more active than the alt.gothic Facebook group and that is saying a whole lot of things. Being part of a very active community posting links to sales on washi tape and fountain pens has been kind of exciting -- anyone who claims letterwriting is dead does not know these folks.

The LEP maintains a database of its members, so when you want to write to someone new, you can search through it and check out people's interests. You can also just post to the group -- people offer to send introductory letters on a pretty regular basis.

There's also a monthly newsletter -- delivered via email. The irony of a letterwriting newsletter coming via email is not lost on me, but it does mean there are downloadables in every month's issue. That usually means stationery you can download and then print at home or at a local office supply place if you are like me and you abandoned your color printer on the curb because you were using it once a year at most and that's a lot of money saved on ink cartridges.

The LEP was featured in a BBC News article in March, talking about the resurgence of the post. (I'm in there, too!) The coverage of letterwriting is always exciting to me -- I keep seeing people on social media who want to get and send mail but don't know where to connect with penpals. I figure the more we talk about it, the more likely people are to hear about it. That's how it works, right?

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Hawaiian treats that Louise mailed to me! The best kind of spam in your mailbox, amirite?

Have you guys given any online resources a shot? I'm curious about your experiences. I'm still loving my Letter Writers Alliance penpals (not to mention those of you who have become regular correspondents). And, oh, hey, heads up! I heard that the LWA is going to do a correspondence mail art course sometime probably early next year. I'm definitely keeping that on my list of classes to take.

When it comes to mail art, what do you think about inclusions (artistic or not)? I just got a letter with a brownie recipe card included, which has me very interested in making brownies. And Louise sent me (and Claire, too) a care package full of Spam -- that totally counts as an inclusion, I think. I've gotten all sorts of neat bits and pieces of ephemera, too. Do you include anything with your letters? What sorts of ephemera are you excited to receive? I like to tuck in extra sheets of stationery when I have them on hand because finding unique writing papers can be so difficult.

Now I've got to head for the post office. I've got letters to mail! And those new vintage circus stamps to buy.