October 1, 2012
On: Writing a Letter a Day

Greetings Readers! The purveyor of this blog has prevailed upon me, TheRetroWriter, to compose a guest post, and so I thought I might share some of my experiences regarding an experiment I conducted, wherein I (attempted) to write one letter, each day, for one year. Even though the project only lasted 52 days before I became too snowed-under with work to continue, it was a fascinating experience, and if one considers, 52 letters is one letter each week: not too shabby.

I began the experiment by writing to people in my immediate vicinity; my wife, my close (distance-wise) friends, and other family, then moving out to long-distance friends, friends from college and grad school, eventually going all the way back to elementary school. After a few weeks, I noticed that certain trends were emerging, eg: I’d spend a few days writing to people I knew from a certain time in my life, or from certain events in my past. Many, in fact most, of the people I wrote to, I haven’t seen in 10-15 years. And although many a letter to figures past comprised mainly of ‘I’m sorry we didn’t keep up, but if you’re ever in town, look me up, beer’s on me’ (Incidentally, if these letters get out, I’m going to be spending a fortune on beer,) I found it to be an enlightening trip into my past. For not only did I get in touch (after a fashion) with people I cared about, I got in touch with a younger part of myself. A younger, more naive, sans a few pounds, but with some very different ideas on life, the universe, and everything.

As I went on, I found myself writing to increasingly esoteric recipients, like God, the bands ‘Spinal Tap’ and ‘The Buggles,’ agreeing that video had indeed kill the radio star, and that I came from a city (Seattle) that actually had a monorail, although my name isn’t Johnny. Again: not exactly award-winning prose, but it’s been my experience that the writing we look back upon most fondly is some of the most droll and obtuse stuff we’ve ever written, or will ever write.

And although the experiment was eventually buried under a pile of other projects and IOU: one letter notes to myself, I would not for a second consider the venture a failure. I did, for a time, write what amounted to a letter a week, I got in touch (in a manner of speaking) with some unresolved issues in my past, and I realized that I was actually quite grateful to some people I’d all-but forgotten. Most were teachers, though a few were people who just happened to be at the right place in the right time in my life.

So if you fancy a trip into the depths of your memory that’s not too intensive on time or mental strain, try writing a few letters to people you’ve known throughout the years. You might be surprised at what comes out. I know I was.

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