The Continuing Ongoing Modern Pen Pal Project June 23, 2024 9:09 AM   Subscribe

Since the beginning of 2020, I've been doing a project where I write a handwritten letter a week to friends, acquaintances, and family members on a topic of their choosing and have sent out over 150 letters since starting. I last posted for correspondence about 18 months ago here in MetaTalk, asking for participants -- and you folks delivered! From your participation, I've started some lovely longer-term correspondences, and have sent out one-time thoughts on everything from video games to the history of my area to books to new interests. My list has dwindled and I could use some new participants!

If you would like to participate, please sign-up here and you will get a letter in the mail. I prefer to be provided a topic, especially when I don't know the recipient directly, as constraints help my thought process. There is not a requirement to respond with a letter in kind! If you do write back, I will keep the correspondence going.

I welcome international addresses and writing to kiddos! If you signed up last time and enjoyed the experience, feel free to sign-up again. If you would like to know a bit more about me beyond what is in my mF profile before signing up, MeMail me with any questions.

I continue to experiment with creating my own stationary and including drawings in some cases, so in addition to a letter, depending on whim, you may also receive an artifact of some type along with the letter.

If you signed up last time and either didn't get a letter or sent me a letter back but I didn't respond, please MeMail me. Also, if you sent me a letter and it came back "Return to Sender", please reach out-- I've had that happen to a couple people and while I *think* it is resolved with the USPS, the more examples the better.
posted by chiefthe to MetaFilter-Related at 9:09 AM (9 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

I’m in awe. Two years ago, I got back a trove of letters from my teen years, pre-internet, pre-free long distance calls, and it made me think, hey, I should get back to that.

It’s been two years. I’ve sent two letters. The time from starting the letters to finishing them, on average, was three months. I salute your letter writing perseverance, but I don’t think I’d be cut out for that volume.
posted by Ghidorah at 12:37 AM on June 24 [2 favorites]

Mod note: [Dear chiefthe, just a quick note to say that this post has been added to the sidebar and Best Of blog. Yours truly, taz.]
posted by taz (staff) at 1:25 AM on June 24 [4 favorites]

I have signed up. I originally mis-read this as each person who signs up getting a letter per week and so I was very confused about whether you have a job or sleep or what your deal is cause who has time to write like 50 letters a week?
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 4:56 AM on June 24 [1 favorite]

I signed up too! So lovely.
posted by oxford blue at 5:57 AM on June 24 [1 favorite]

@taz very exciting! Thank you! Great to get out in front of more MeFi folks!

@Ghidorah it took a while to build the habit, but now that I've written a letter each week for so long, it is almost like brushing my teeth and it feels weird if I get behind. It was also very hard at first writing into the void, but now that I have a few regular correspondents, it is very satisfying to have a slower form of communication and the resulting developing friendships.

@If only I had a penguin... If only! I do long for the day that my lotto numbers come up, and I can spend an inclement day or two a week on my correspondence—looking longingly out the window of my country estate, as related in 19th century novels; or perhaps employ a scrivener who would prefer not to. For now, I will keep it to this more manageable scope. ;)
posted by chiefthe at 1:48 PM on June 24 [2 favorites]

I've just received my letter this week, for which I requested thoughts on walking in the woods. I quite enjoyed reading it and marveling at some commonalities that chiefthe and I share. I will be returning a letter soon!
posted by initapplette at 12:45 PM on June 26 [1 favorite]

I've been doing the MeFi Card Swap about every quarter for a while now, and while I struggle to get my cards out on time, I do so appreciate seeing a piece of mail that is not another exciting opportunity to scam me out home insurance. Signed up, thanks!
posted by winesong at 3:17 PM on June 26 [1 favorite]

@initapplette looking forward to it!
posted by chiefthe at 12:12 PM on June 29 [1 favorite]

About to sign up, but I first wanted to share my "history" of pen-pals....I didn't realize it so much at the time, but looking back letter-writing played a huge role in my social life. Like anyone, I enjoyed receiving letters in the mail and when I was a teen and in love with the Bay City Rollers (a clue as to my age) I saw a pen-pal list and wrote to a fellow fan. While exchanging letters I often received an enclosure known at the time as an "FB" - Friendship Book. Someone made a small booklet of pieces of paper stapled together, listed their name and address on the cover page, along with their interests and hobbies and would send it to a fellow pen-pal. Each recipient would "sign in" on a page, listing their pertinent info, etc. The last person to sign in mailed it back to the person who made the book. Along the way, however, folks could browse through previous signers and find potential pen-friends who shared similar interests....whether it be exchanging recipes, or sewing, or being a fan of X band.

To non-pen-pallers it didn't make any sense when they'd ask "How did you and X meet?" and we'd say "It started with an FB..." But one Queen fan friend I met via FB eventually became a very close friend in Real Life (she was a bridesmaid at my wedding); I have so many other friends via the pen-pal circuit that I "met" in the 1980s that I'm still in contact with today (mainly via Facebook; no one seems to write letters anymore).
posted by Oriole Adams at 2:22 PM on July 14 [1 favorite]

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