Monday, September 20, 2010

Stuck ...

in the 1800s.

That's how I'm feeling tonight, about my letter-writing project. I am fond as ever of my (almost) daily missives, but was just reminded again of how this effort might be termed "quaint" or "old-fashioned," or--far less generously--"archaic."

I wrote a letter to J, the lead singer of one of my favorite bands. Remember when you could "write" to the fan club of your favorite singer or actor? Write, as in take a pencil--or a silver glitter pen or a fuchsia magic marker, depending on your age, gender and level of ardor toward your letter recipient--to paper and express your thoughts, then stuff them in an envelope, slap on a stamp and send them to the fan club's P.O. box? (Yes, this is how I once got a signed photo of Hall and Oates, but I digress.)

Well, it seems times have changed. I was hard pressed to find a physical address anywhere for J and his band--clicking the "Contact Us" link on the band's online fan club page yielded an e-mail form, because doesn't everyone e-mail now?

Well, almost everyone.

I settled for sending the letter in care of J's record label, which assures on its website that it looks forward to hearing from fans of all its artists. That may well be true, in terms of the label now having my address to send me junk mail, but I put the odds of J ever receiving my letter at 50/50, best case.

Luckily for me, as important as J receiving the letter was the act of writing it--I've long wanted to tell him what an amazing songwriter I think he is, and how so many of his songs have profoundly affected me. And the act of expressing gratitude for gifts, from no matter where they come, is something worth sticking to.

SPEAKING OF FAN MAIL: Among the letters published on the website Letters of Note are celebrities' notable, memorable, and downright quirky responses to fan mail they receive. A recently posted letter from Tatum O'Neal, circa 1982, is a perfect case in point.


Anonymous said...

I love the "archaic" art of writing a letter in long hand. I think so many people in general miss out on the meaning behind the words. Like you say, it's about the time spent and the care taken in creating a special gift for someone and sending it through the mail.

Email is quick, easy, sometimes even fun. But, the effect is never the same.

Thanks for continuing to share your experience with this project.

Shawn said...

I agree with your post as well as Christi 100 percent. Letter writing accomplishes something e-mail or texting just can't do in this age. I'd urge you to check out The Things Unsaid Project (, which is another blog project based in letter writing.

Rosemary said...

I also have found myself "stuck" when I wanted to write a letter to an influential photographer. On his website, the only way to contact him was by leaving a comment. I had hoped to send a photo-card as a thank-you for his influential work. I'll still seek out a way to do this. Thanks for the encouragement to do so.

Lynn, The Jar Keeper said...

@christi: Thanks for checking in and for the words of support. I've been kind of quiet in Twitterville lately but have still been watching my tweeps (including you). Hope all is well.

@Shawn: I am definitely going to check out The Things Unsaid Project. I am so very interested in others who are endeavoring to save the dying art of the handwritten note. Thanks for checking out The Letter Jar.

@Rosemary: You are so very welcome. I hope that you are able to find a gallery or publisher or some other way of reaching out to the photographer. There really is something special about expressing our thoughts in handwriting (and your photo card is such a lovely idea) versus a few keystrokes.

Many blessings to you all.

Elizabeth Jarrard said...

I love this project and blog!!! i feel so inspired-there's not better feeling than receiving a letter in the mail!
Thank you!