I have written about tackling the February ‘Month of Letters’ challenge before on The Landing and on Writing.ie, so I thought that I would give you a progress report on my 2015 attempt. As usual, I began writing enthusiastically, but this time around, I entered a sort of sluggish phase part way into the month. The original rules of the challenge state that you don’t have to post on Sundays (nor, as the challenge was set by an American writer, on February 16 for President’s Day). On my first couple of attempts, I was enthusiastic enough to include Sundays (despite there being no mail collection on Sunday in Ireland) but this year I have observed the breaks and I feel slightly lazy for having done so. As I ignore the US Public Holiday, that means posting twenty-four items during February.
Missing the Sunday letter meant that I despatched my first mailing on 2 February – so far so good. I began the month with a list of possible suspects (in no particular order) and worked from that as the days went on. Originally I had conceived the idea of putting names of possible recipients into a hat and drawing one each day. I thought this would be great way to add a nice element of serendipity to the proceedings. Sadly, it was not to be due to my unfortunate inefficiency. Therefore, I am still working from the list but trying to maintain an air of randomness by not following the list in order. The down side to this is that I have noticed a distressing tendency to do the ‘soft options’ first. In other words, the people I see the most often and to whom I therefore wouldn’t send a long letter, but perhaps only a postcard or note.
Of course I worry that someone will think, ‘Hang on a minute, how come I am not getting a letter until the 23rd? Does this mean that I’m not as important as 22 other people?’ or words to that effect. Maybe I just worry too much. After all, as I write this blog post I am aware that I have yet to post a letter to one of my sisters but I don’t think she’s likely to take offence at that (I hope). Some folks do actually end up getting more than one billet doux as the challenge rules stipulate that you must reply to every letter received. If you really get into the spirit and rhythm of the challenge then there is no reason to post only one item a day. I could post two, three or even more.
As February moves on to meet the March lamb (or lion) I am feeling pleased that I have kept my pen diligently moving. I might even have a last minute flurry of scribbling to squeeze in a few extra people. As usual, I have factored in my dad’s birthday and my parent’s anniversary. I was probing my conscience as to whether I can claim dad’s birthday present as an item posted when I have already counted his card in. It seems rather sharp practice to me, so I might have to reprimand myself. As in previous years, I have been delighted when my recipients have responded in kind. I have scanned in a couple of replies, including Teri Farrell’s postcard with her original artwork. One to frame I think.
I am already thinking about how to make next year’s challenge a little bit different from previous years. The author of the challenge Mary Robinette Kowal suggests that you don’t have to actually send a letter, but something else such as a swatch of fabric as a keepsake. I like that idea, so perhaps I will collect miscellaneous items during the year and then decide whom to send them to next February. And as next year will be a leap year then it would be a great way to do something a little different.
Meanwhile, it’s back to the letter writing for 2015. Has anyone else been participating in Month of Letters?