A year of letters

Dear friends,

My phone is cracked. When I was running, I started to drop it, and somehow the dropping turned into throwing and it hit a rock. This happened twice, on separate runs, with different weather and mileage. Some part of me, I think, wanted to crush it, the screen, the harbinger of so much doom. But my phone is also my connection to quite literally hundreds of people. A friend with a book of poetry coming out, a child born, a sudden loss, a move to a new city. I don’t want to disconnect, I need to be here, hearing the personal news.

If I promised to make a clean break with social media forever, I’d be lying. But I need to create more space. The plan is to dial down the social media, maintain my new commitments to local and regular political action, and to write. I am coming apart. I need to change the baseline habits.

So, here is my promise: For one year, starting on my birthday in one week, I’ll write one of you a letter every day.

If you send me your address in the form below, I’ll put you on the list. Pen and paper. A stamp and an envelope. I have no idea what I’ll say. Ask me a question! I will spend time focused on that question. If you need me to listen, tell me something. I will read and send you nothing more than a handwritten acknowledgment of what you said. Or you can just say hello, and I’ll start with Dear [You] and tell you about the latest hairline fractures.

I’ll spend some time thinking about you, not in front of a screen. Maybe I will include a collage, maybe I won’t. I am not a poet, but maybe the prose will be polished. Or maybe I’ll just crack a joke and tell you what I had for lunch. I do not promise I won’t talk about podcasts.

I’m a writer, sometimes, and I need a writing exercise. I have too much work, I am behind, I am busy, yes. I imagine this as a project, a practice, a way of holding people in my thoughts and forcing myself away from the screen. I won’t keep a copy of your letter on my computer, and I won’t revise it after I send it to you. I won’t use your letter in something published or publishable unless you send it back to me and agree to such a use of it and we do such a thing together. You can write back. This is your letter, a piece of paper with words, just for you.

If I don’t get 365 of you to do this, I’ll start writing letters to people whose addresses I have, or I’ll dig up addresses for people to whom I wish to speak, or I’ll write letters to the dead. A year is a good solid goal.

My friend’s friend made him a postcard, every day, for a year, as a birthday present. They were in their twenties. The postcard maker is an artist. I am neither in my twenties nor a selfless visual artist, but I have seen the collection of postcards and it’s incredible and I was inspired. I want to try.

Another poet friend of a friend set up a site for poetry-on-demand for $5 when he was living in his parents’ basement. I was also inspired by poetry for hire in your parent’s basement. I paid him and he sent me a poem. You don’t have to pay for this.

I have been told, since high school, that I have handwriting that looks lovely from a distance but is sometimes impenetrably hard to read. Would you like to try?

Please send me your address below.
I promise to send you a letter.

Thank you.

–Michelle

 

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