I was lucky enough to have made the acquaintance of Mary Robinette Kowal at Orycon 2006, when we were on several panels together. I’ve followed her ever since and noted with interest the project she began talking about a few weeks ago, The Month of Letters Challenge. It’s not unlike NaNoWriMo but the idea is to write and send a letter each mail day in the month of February. There are 24 mail days in the month, so 24 letters.
As it happens, for years I have had the idea of creating little collage postcards and mailing them to my friends. My idea was to do one each weekend and mail to a friend with whom I had fallen out of contact. The person I always thought should have been the first recipient was my friend Thomas Peake, who is now sadly the late great Thomas Peake. Thomas was always a guy for creating things, especially interesting physical artifacts. He taught me how to screen print t-shirts (some of which I still have and wear), he used to print up his own zines and the like. This idea appealed to me precisely because it was physical. Much of what I have done in the last decade is digital, electronic and ephemeral. I liked the idea of getting glue on my fingers and dropping in the post a little physical thing that will show up at someone’s house in their mailbox. It is old fashioned and nostalgic and the opposite of how we do things nowadays.
I had this idea maybe five years ago, but it wasn’t until Mary began posting her challenge to social networking sites that I began action. It was just enough of a shove to get me out of my inertial rut and moving. This is now underway. I mailed the first one today, to Mary herself. That seemed like a reasonable enough place to start. The next is going out tomorrow. I am tending to prepare them a day ahead, mainly because I want to keep a scan of them for myself. Part of the challenge is that you don’t write them ahead of time. You write one per day. I am, however, making the collages several days ahead of time and leaving them blank until time for the letter.
A wrinkle I decided to add is a QR code on each of them that points back to this post. If you were the recipient of one of these cards and reading this post, please leave me a quick comment below. It seems like a weird and interesting way to bridge the loop between the online and off, the slow deliberate postal system and the immediate global internet. I’m all for weird hybrids of interesting projects, especially the kind that helps keep me in touch with my friends.
Even if you don’t start on February 1st, if you want to join in either because you received a letter from someone (maybe me) or it just seems fun, please do. Start whenever you like, count off 24 mail days and get to it. Life is short, friends are too scarce and now is the only time we ever have. Off we go into the future, you and me and everyone. Let’s make it what we want of it.