The month is over, and I accomplished my task: one letter every day. It was sometimes a struggle; I would realize it was 1 AM and I didn’t have anything, so I’d grumpily sit down and bang out an ugly postcard or something. But often it was a pleasure to write, and to fashion an envelope–I think, though I can’t remember exactly, that I never used an actual pre-made envelope, only ones I made myself. The two most beautiful ones, in my opinion–one which I sewed, and fastened with a button, and one which was made of black and white card-stock sort of origamied together–got returned to me, and uglified by the post office, the former with printed postage stuck on in the worst possible way, the latter covered with a bunch of unncessary tape. In most of the letters I included a few doodles or illustrations; one of them was written on the backs of a series of watercolors of imaginary moths.
The interesting thing about writing every day, by hand, so that no record exists, is that I barely remember what I wrote in any of them; they blend together. Normally I have a sort of spatial sense of memory, but I’m basically unable to be voluntarily creative or productive before sundown, so almost all of my letters were written in the same situation: the letter written sitting up in bed, the envelope made at my desk. There are a couple of examples that I remember a bit better than the others: to my minister friend, I wrote about the early Christian church; to my dancer friend, about the Ballets Russes; to my historian friend, I wrote in a pastiche of Gibbon. But what about the others? I think I wrote about La Jetée to someone: who? What did I write to my friend Erin, who lives in St. Petersburg, or my friend Lis, who lives in Palau? No idea.
I’m not sure if practice made my letters more perfect, although I certainly could cut an envelope in short order by the end. One great benefit was that over the course of the month I accumulated more of the, I guess you could say, “incidental” art materials which I had abandoned in my last move: Crayola crayons, colored pens, glue stick, that sort of thing. There’s also nothing like a deadline for getting you past certain silly roadblocks: every night I had to push aside the stuff on my desk to make the envelope, which sounds like nothing, but it’s the kind of minor inconvenience which can stop me dead before I even start to draw or sew something. And so today, for example, with the precedent established, I shoved everything aside to make an attempt at a hat for a doll–the idea of which I had while writing one of my letters and staring at my box of incidental art materials. So, even if I hadn’t, by writing all these, communicated with over 20 friends I’ve been in more or less bad touch with, I would feel the exercise was very rewarding. And the fact is that there is nothing quite like recieving some love and regard in a paper letter. I will definitely do it all again next year, and I encourage you to try it too.