Joining The Alliance

In Which Our Heroine Receives Her First Assignment

Guess what came in the mail today?

My first Pen Pal Assignment from the Letter Writers Alliance!

I am rather excited. Her address is in New York, not far from where I visited in April. I can’t wait to start writing–but how do I introduce myself? Should I send a resume’? A biography? A list of interests? A drawing of a cat? I know nothing of her, and she knows nothing of me. What would create the best first impression? Is there an etiquette manual about this?

Perhaps I should simply hope to impress her with my penmanship. Perhaps I am overthinking this, as usual.

In other news, Mailing #4 is winging its way to a friend in need!

My friend is going through a tough time–I hope that receiving this in the mail will bring a smile to her face.

Time to write!

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Categories: Introductions, Mailings, Pondering | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Post on the Post

In Which Our Heroine Ponders The Etiquette Of Letters–Perhaps Too Extensively

As I prepared for my Pen Pal Assignment from the LWA, I decided that it would behoove me to study the proper way to write letters. I would hate to unintentionally offend new friends, especially on first acquaintance. As the old saying goes, one only has one chance to make a good impression.

To that end, I have referred to Emily Post, that Empress of Etiquette, for she wrote her book during a time when long, chatty letters were still being written–or so I thought.

Imagine my surprise when I read the following from Chapter 28 of Emily’s Etiquette, “Longer Letters”:
The art of general letter-writing in the present day is shrinking until the letter threatens to become a telegram, a telephone message, a postcard. Since the events of the day are transmitted in newspapers with far greater accuracy, detail, and dispatch than they could be by the single effort of even Voltaire himself, the circulation of the general news, which formed the chief reason for letters of the stage-coach and sailing-vessel days, has no part in the correspondence of to-day.
Taking the contents of an average mail bag as sorted in a United States post-office, about fifty per cent. is probably advertisement or appeal, forty per cent. business, and scarcely ten per cent. personal letters and invitations. Of course, love letters are probably as numerous as need be, though the long-distance telephone must have lowered the average of these, too. Young girls write to each other, no doubt, much as they did in olden times, and letters between young girls and young men flourish today like unpulled weeds in a garden where weeds were formerly never allowed to grow.
It is the letter from the friend in this city to the friend in that, or from the traveling friend to the relative at home, that is gradually dwindling. As for the letter which younger relatives dutifully used to write–it has gone already with old-fashioned grace of speech and deportment.

In 1922 New York, Emily Post was already mourning the decline of the Posted Letter. (Her dig at the Younger Generation and Their Decline is one of many and can be set aside for the moment.) Like many of us here in 2013, she felt a nostalgia for the joys of the written word, winging its way from far-away parts to bring news, well-wishes, and loving thoughts from one who is temporarily out of sight, but never out of mind.

Luckily, Emily goes on to say that “…people do write letters in this day and there are some who possess the divinely flexible gift for a fresh turn of phrase, for delightful keenness of observation.” There is hope, it seems, for the Posted Letter, even among the despised Younger Generation.

In Chapter 27, “Notes and Shorter Letters,” and the aforementioned Chapter 28, “Longer Letters,” Emily Post indicates, in the minutest detail, the proper way to go about writing different sorts of letters. She emphasizes things like legibility, spelling, and even appropriate stationery–chosen not just for its suitability to the writer’s societal position and the occasion for writing, but also to the writer’s individual handwriting and style. A letter must not only be coherent and clever, but also aesthetically pleasing.

Once one cuts through all the specifics, however, the etiquette of letter writing seems to boil down to the following: When writing a letter, do your best to display the care and affection you feel for the recipient in every aspect of your efforts, from your choice of writing paper to your penmanship and spelling to the way you address and seal the envelope. Your letter is a sign of your regard, and your respect for your recipient should show in every fold of paper and dash of ink.

Fashions of both speech and writing change, but etiquette is still the act of showing respect to one’s fellow human beings. I hope that my future pen pals, as well as my friends and relations, see the esteem in which I hold them in the letters that I write.

Categories: Pondering | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

A Happy Response

In Which Our Heroine Takes Joy In Other People’s Happiness

This arrived in my Twitter Feed today:

(Click on the link to see the photo.)

Mailing #3 has landed, and I have that warm fuzzy feeling that comes from a Random Act of Art.

This is encouraging. Remember, Dear Reader–something like this, a little drawing with a short note on the back, can mean a good deal to a friend who is having a hard day (or is having a great day, for that matter).

I declare this Experiment a Success!

Categories: Mailings | Tags: , | 1 Comment

O Frabjous Day! Calloo! Callay!

In Which Our Heroine Contemplates An Excellent Mail Day

Today’s visit to the mailbox yielded a particularly delightful harvest:

Pictured: Membership Kit from Letter Writers Alliance, J. Herbin ink cartridges and Ohto Tasche fountain pen from JetPens.com.

Not Pictured: Letter Writers Alliance Membership Card

I finally received my Membership Kit from Letter Writers Alliance! I am so excited! I cannot wait to sign up for the Pen Pal Swap and start sending and receiving more letters! (I think I have to send in a letter in order to make that happen. I should get writing!)

I also received my latest JetPens order: My second Tasche Ohto fountain pen (my first real fountain pen was the same one but with a blue body), plus some very pretty tins full of J. Herbin ink cartridges in “Eclat de Saphir,” “Larmes de Cassis,” and “Ambre de Birmanie.” I may have to get more fountain pens so that I have one for each color. I adore these tiny tins. I have such a vulnerability to excellent packaging.

Have you received something wonderful in the mail recently? Tell me about it in the comments!

Time to get writing!

Categories: Mailings | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

The Challenges of Mailing

In Which Our Heroine Faces The Desire To Keep Art Destined For Others

I’ve finished Mailing #3! I am particularly pleased with this one, despite its many flaws.

I am not at all good at drawing architecture, so this was yet another excellent artistic challenge. I believe, however, that my need for more practice is rather glaringly obvious in this piece. I am pleased with the cat, so that is some consolation. I found my Prismacolor colored pencils and rediscovered the joys of working with quality art materials. The Coloriffic pencils I was using previously were a challenge in themselves.

“Guardian of the Portal” was done on my faithful 3.5 “Window” card (this time featuring an actual window!) in pencil, Sharpie pen, and Prismacolor colored pencils. Unfortunately, the photo does not show the metallic gold on the cat’s whiskers very well.

The Problem with being Pleased with One’s Art is that one is then Tempted to Keep It For One’s Self. After all, one could just draw something else for the Intended Recipient. But that would do nothing for my Character and would make me feel Guilty. The purpose of this project is to send things. I steeled myself, wrote a note on the back, slipped it into an envelope, sealed it, addressed it, stamped it, and gave it to my husband to mail. He has promised faithfully not to lose it, and I can ask no more of him. I can feel my Self-Discipline improving already.

Mailing #3 is going to a lovely lady whom I have never actually met in person. I hope she likes it.

What have you sent away that you might rather have kept?

Categories: Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Writing Anxiety

In Which Our Heroine is Already Concerned About Her Blogging Powers

I should probably warn you, Dear Reader, that I am embarking on this new Blog with a certain amount of trepidation. I want–very badly–for this to be a good and useful Blog, not only to myself, but also to you. At the same time, this Blog needs to be for me to use as I wish. I do not want to lock myself down and, above all, I do not want to build up expectations that will surely doom all of us to disappointment. That Way Lies Madness. I worry about neglecting The Other Blog in my excitement over this New Shiny Blog. I worry about Not Being Able To Persist–about starting things I will not be able or willing to finish. (This is a Known Flaw in my Character.)

However, as I ponder these things, I realize the following:
1) The more I practice writing, the better my writing will be. Therefore, writing here can only benefit The Other Blog.
2) Each entry I write here will boost my Self-Discipline and Persistence. Practice is the key. This will, obviously, Build Character.
3) This is my Blog, where I should write what I like. Your expectations, Dear Reader, are your own to look after. I do hope that this Blog will be Educational, Entertaining, and Enjoyable for all of us, but I certainly cannot promise to be spot-on every time. That is what this Blog is about, ultimately: Improvement.

So, since Improvement requires Practice, I can also post here as often as I like without feeling guilty. It seems odd to feel guilt for posting too often, but there it is. Further Self-Analysis may be required to figure out that particular puzzle.

Mailing #1 finally made it into the mailbox yesterday and is winging its way to its Intended Recipient. Mailing #2, “This Is Your Chicken,” is going out today.

I do not usually attempt anything close to this kind of realism, but this was done in the spirit of Challenging Myself. It is, at least, recognizable as a chicken. I used the same materials as Mailing #1: 3×5 “Window” card, pencil, Sharpie pen, and really cheap “Colorific” colored pencils. I have to say that I really prefer the Sharpie pen over many other art pens–I can run my eraser over the lines without them greying out. The message on the back of the card is rather silly. I feel that I need to work on being clever and pithy instead. That’s another challenge. “Pithy” is not my middle name, to be frank.

How are you challenging yourself?

Categories: Mailings, Pondering | Tags: , | 2 Comments

The Well-Lettered Lady: An Introduction

In which Our Heroine begins her Great Experiment/Adventure and, Just Possibly, is Already In Over Her Head

This morning, I joined the Letter Writers Alliance in an effort to write more often, improve my writing thereby, and learn to loosen up a bit with my art.  By recording my experiences/attempts/failures here, I hope to keep a record of this Ephemera, even as I send it out into the world.  The idea is freeing–once a letter or drawing (or both) is sent, it is out of my hands.  It may spur a conversation, inspire a friend, or just provide a bright spot when it is needed most.  It may be utterly ignored.  I may never know.

I also plan to use this Blog as a place to record general thoughts about Writing, Drawing, and the Artistic Process (at least through my eyes and experiences).

I believe one should start as one means to go on, so this is Mailing #1:

The photo is a bit blurry, I’m afraid, but it will have to do.  I hope to get a scanner hooked up for future postings.  In any case, this is “The First Flower of Spring,” a quick sketch in pencil, inked with Sharpie pen, and colored with some very cheap colored pencils I picked up a while ago.  It was fun to just sit down and draw–I haven’t done that in a long time.

The card is a 3 x 5 “window” card from Levenger, which is a place that can suck you down into a wonderful, expensive pit of stationery.

Mailing #1 goes in the post today or tomorrow, depending on when I can get to the Post Office.

Let the Adventure Begin!

Categories: Introductions, Mailings | Tags: , , | 3 Comments

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