Month of Letters Update

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.

Card from Claire

Note from Claire

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.

Daffodil from Teri

Daffodil from Teri

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?

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Landing news: A quick catch-up

My Month of Letters participation went well this year with at least one item of mail (and often two) posted every day of the month. I was keeping a tally of recipients as I went along this time around so my final totals are:

 

A Month of Letters badge

Happy letter writing!

Correspondence sent to twenty-four people plus my parents x two items

Birthday card for my dad

One reply to a Month of Letters response (thanks Grainne!)

The lovely thing about sending #Lettermo mail this year, has been receiving post in return. One day I came home to the thrill of finding four non-brown envelope items on the door mat, which these days is quite something. To mark the occasion I assembled several items for a photograph. After much posing and arranging, here they are:

letters and cards

The cards sat on the mat…

I do plan to keep up my rekindled enthusiasm for writing letters and postcards and have even bought a

rather nice postcard calendar (marked down to clear) so that I need never be short of something to send. For this year’s letter writing challenge a special Month of Letters postcard design was available to order so I splashed out on a bundle of them.

Maybe I will manage to be less of a Facebook-er and more of a pen friend correspondent this year. Watch this space…

One Year on the Landing: A Literary Milestone

Green bound classic

A rather smart binding…

I am pleased to say that today is the First Anniversary of The Landing Book Shelves Reading Challenge. There was a time when I thought that I would fall by the wayside, but I am pleased that I managed to stick with it this far. I have enjoyed having a go at blogging and I have taught myself a few WordPress skills in the process. Having the blog has also ‘landed’ me with a marvellous excuse for reading more books! Of course when I have finally finished my Landing Eight bit of the Reading Challenge then I will simply have to begin all over again with another random pile culled from the shelves.

By way of an anniversary (or perhaps it should be birthday?) gesture I have chosen to post up a  rather jolly picture from The Diary of  a Nobody, depicting Mr and Mrs Poooter taking a few frivolous turns around the room. The occasion for celebration was their invitation to a party at the Mansion House. The illustrations, drawn by Weedon Grossmith are so good that it would be difficult to pick a favourite, but this one fits my purpose today just nicely.

The drawing captures the exuberance of the moment as the couple whirl around the room in anticipation of the social event of the year. Not surprisingly, the maid picks that moment to enter the room. Sarah witnesses her otherwise respectable employers dancing in the parlour:

I cannot tell what induced me to do it, but I seized her round the waist, and we were silly enough to be executing a wild kind of polka when Sarah entered, grinning, and said: “There is a man, mum, at the door who wants to know if you want any good coals”. Most annoyed at this.

Mr and Mrs Pooter dancing

A merry dance…

It is not clear whether Mr Pooter is annoyed at the interruption of his impromptu dance session or at being caught doing something silly by the maid. The episode describing the actual Mansion House dinner and ball is very entertaining as Mr Pooter is rather shocked to find that some of the tradespeople he deals with have also been invited. I do urge anyone who has not yet encountered the Pooters and their friends to get hold of a copy forthwith and make their acquaintance.

Meanwhile I will be busy with Mary Robinette Kowal’s February letter writing challenge Month of Letters (hashtag #lettermo) and embarking upon a web design course. I also hope to have a bash at reading another book from the Landing Eight challenge.

Until soon (I hope!)…

Month of Letters (#LetterMo)

I know it might seem rather conceited to be re-blogging myself (albeit with a different hat), but I am keenly awaiting the start of February to get stuck into letter writing. This will be the second year that I have tackled Mary Robinette Kowal’s wonderful letter writing challenge. The re-blog is to help spread the letter writing bug as far and wide as possible!

Meanwhile I will be working on the next instalment of the Landing Reading Challenge…

Irish News Review

lwI know we are not yet clear of January but I am already looking ahead to February’s comparatively brief span. The reason for all of this eagerness is that the second month of the year has been designated as ‘letter-writing season’. If you are even the slightest bit intrigued by that idea, then read on:

Last year I participated in the ‘Month of Letters’ challenge set up by American writer Mary Robinette Kowal, although I discovered the challenge too late to be able to begin on time. I enjoyed making the effort to write more letters and postcards to family and friends than I usually manage. Most people I know still love to have something more cheering than a utility bill plopping onto their doormat in the morning. And in this year of ‘The Gathering’ it seems a good idea to get writing to all of those friends…

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Mary Robinette Kowal

Footnote: #LetterMo author Mary Robinette Kowal

While having a quick browse in the recently returned section of the library last Thursday, I spotted a novel by Mary Robinette Kowal, Shades of Milk and Honey. Attentive readers of this blog will be aware that the American author was also responsible for organising the February letter writing challenge A Month of Letters in which I participated (with admittedly mixed results) this year. If you missed it, catch up with the post here.

 

Shades of Milk and Honey

A Tempting Read….

Kowal’s  novel is an Austen inspired comedy of manners with a fantasy element that was nominated for the Nebula Prize 2010 in the Best Novel category. One of the reviews (RT Book Reviews) says it ‘includes ethereal events, exquisite prose, delicately drawn characters, and tender emotions.’ It sounds temptingly delicious but I have just begun my book club novel, David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas so it must remain firmly untouched on the bedside table for a while.
And as for the proper business of reading the next Landing Eight choice…..I leave you all to guess.

http://www.maryrobinettekowal.com/fiction-collectio/shades-of-milk-and-honey/

Historic Letters and #LetterMo: a winning literary challenge

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Letter Writing Month Badge

In my first Landing Reading Challenge post, I mentioned a collection of letters on the landing bookshelves. As February is the month of a brilliant letter writing challenge (set up by Mary Robinette Kowal), I decided to start my own particular challenge with a browse through the volume of historic letters. I cannot remember exactly when I bought this book but at a guess, I would estimate about fifteen years ago. The book was published in 1950 and at some point, an unknown hand had written the date 29/4/71 on the flyleaf. I’m not sure that it really counts as being on a TBR Pile however, since it is the sort of book that you browse rather than read cover to cover.

I must digress slightly to admit that though I have signed up to the letter writing challenge I did sign up a few days late. In my defence though, I have actually been diligently writing and posting cards since 1st February but without any coherent plan in mind. I think I may continue to do it that way. I will decide in the morning to whom the day’s offering will be sent. In this case, the lucky recipient will be (almost) as much a surprise to me as it will be to them.

In the meantime, back to The World’s Greatest Letters, which covers a fair slice of history beginning as it does with Cicero and ending with a letter written by an ARP Warden in World War II. The nice thing about the collection is that apart from a chronological list, it also has a classification of letters by subject. This means that you may go straight for the ‘Letters of Controversy, Hatred and Enmity’ should you so desire. If that seems to be too strong for your stomach, you might try ‘Letters in a Light Vein’ or ‘Letters about Nature’. Perhaps as 14th February is not too far off I should consult the more romantically inclined letter writers for Valentines inspiration.

I will let you know next time how I get on with bygone love letters; it is time to write the next instalment of #LetterMo. I really must pop out and buy some more stamps. Juggling between a letter writing and a reading challenge will be a challenge in itself…

http://lettermo.com

Twitter: @LetterMonth (#LetterMo)