Friday, November 19, 2010

Luck of the Draw

One of the things I love about The Letter Jar project is its randomness. I resolved at the beginning not to write my letters in a particular order, knowing that I would choose "easy" recipients -- former work colleagues, teachers, my favorite authors -- first and postpone the more emotionally complicated letters to family, close friends, ex-lovers.

So each day I pull a name from the jar. Over the past week I've written to my mother, a fellow stepmom I met through an Internet chat board, my 14-year-old nephew and a competitor at my first reporting job.

Never knowing what -- or, more accurately, whom -- I'm going to get when I open the jar means I also don't know what kind of mindset I'll require when I sit down to write. Will I plumb the depths of my emotions as I realize I'm now the age my mother was when she made major life changes? Or will I write a less challenging, but still gratifying, letter to simply acknowledge how the skill and ambition of my former competitor forced me to up my game and made me better at my job?

Your Aunt Lynn is working on a project to write 365 letters in 365 days,  I wrote to my nephew. I know it sounds crazy -- why wouldn't I just use e-mail or Facebook or a text to get in touch with people? I've always written letters, though, ever since I was pretty young. And I really enjoy it. There is something about the process of putting pen to paper that helps me really tell people how I feel about them.

While my Letter Jar method could be aptly described as "the luck of the draw," it also seems there is luck in every draw -- for all my relationships, and in all the ways they have taught and enriched and strengthened me, I am lucky indeed.

THE LOST ART: Thanks to Jackie at Letters & Journals for linking to a story in The Guardian about "comedian and serial tweeter Sue Perkins, who is fronting a campaign to get people back into the habit of writing to one another." Write on!


Jackie Flaherty said...

Thanks for the mention and link for Letters and Journals. I'm enjoying your blog and hearing about the letters you are writing.


sarah said...

I love what you are doing. I'm a fellow writer of letters and sender of greeting cards! I would like to replicate your year of letter writing but have one question for you. How did you come up with 365 names to put in your jar? I've started a list but barely have enough to fill 2 months! Any suggestions?

Lynn, The Jar Keeper said...

Sorry to be late in responding to both of you ... as you'll see in my forthcoming post, illness knocked me out of letter-writing and blogging and pretty much everything else for a while.

@Jackie: You're very welcome. I love seeing your Letters and Journals posts on Facebook.

@Sarah: My 365 includes some duplicates -- I've written to my mom and my brother and a few friends more than once. But most of the names came from really, really thinking about who I've known in my life. I focused on specific time periods -- grade school, high school, college, first job, etc. -- and all the people I knew in that context. This brought up the names of teachers, friends, bosses, old roommates, old boyfriends, you name it. Looking at old journals and yearbooks and photo albums has helped too -- I've read a journal entry and thought, "Oh yeah, I remember that doctor that helped me," or seen a picture and said, "I really ought to write to my friend's wife to tell her how much I admire her as a mother."

You'll be amazed the names that will come to you if you just think about where and who you were -- and who you were with -- at various times of your life. Such reflections are rewards in and of themselves, I might add -- I have recalled some really wonderful times and even gratifying challenges this way.

Good luck! I can't wait to hear how your project is going.

Katie said...

This is a great blog and I love that you pick from a jar so you don't already go in sort of knowing what to write...very cool.