Real Letters

Mary Robinette Kowal’s recent post, The Month of Letters Challenge , has gotten me thinking about communication. Specifically, how we share ourselves with others through language, images, memory. 

I have a sticker on my laptop, right beneath my keyboard. It says “real people write real letters.” I can’t remember where I got it, other than that it had something to do with a zine, or zine-like project. 

Years ago, before grad school, I made a zine every month or two and mailed it out to my family members. It was called “Frazzle,” and it wasn’t super interesting. It had some doodles, some news about my day to day life, a photograph or two. I was twenty-five and terrified that the people I loved did not have any idea who I was. So I made these little missives and sent them out, hoping for some karma of personhood to flow back to me.

A page from Frazzle, Issue # 1

When I got to grad school, all of my extracurricular creativity stopped pretty quickly. I was reading two books a week, reading my classmates’ stories and critiquing them, plus reading for the class I taught. Grad school was wonderful – I learned so much in just a few years. I’m thankful everyday for my chance to have had that time.

But I lost the zen of creating for the pleasure of the act. The happiness of sending something scruffy-necked and not quite perfect out into the world and moving on before life stopped me long enough to convince me that it wasn’t good enough. Creating words and images that weren’t necessarily story, just themselves.

So I’m going to take Kowal’s excellent idea of writing a letter every postal day in February, and tweak it a bit. I’m going to make one page every day in February. At the end, I’ll put them together into a zine and mail it out to anyone who wants to read it.

If you’d like to get an issue of Frazzle: The Return, leave a message in the comments below. I’ve opened up the commenting restrictions so that anyone can leave a comment without logging in.

Or email me your mailing address at (don’t forget the dot between the first and last name). 🙂

I hope you take advantage of this challenge as well, to spend time with a piece of paper and your favorite pen, sending yourself everywhere you’d like to go.

5 thoughts on “Real Letters

  1. Me! Me! I want one! It's interesting how grad school does that. It's so amazing and awesome being surrounded by other writers, being able to talk reading and writing all day long. But something about it being HOMEWORK zaps the fun out of being creative. You have no time to read or write anything but what you have to read and write for school. And even though you read some of the most amazing thongs and write stories you never knew you had in you, it's just not the same as doing if on your own because you can't not do it, because you can't stand the thought of all the amazing books you'll never have time to read, or that if you don't write these stories, no one will.

  2. Me! ::waves hand:: Meee! (Jei)

    I might take on that challenge! Thanks for pointing it out.

    The newsletter idea is also supercool, and I may have to steal that as well >:D Esp. since my parents seem to keep missing me or something, and I'm not fond of speaking on the phone. ::schemes::

  3. Oh, Jenni, this sounds wonderful! I would be honored to get a copy!

    I've always wanted to make a zine. Had a couple false starts in high school, packed with political ramblings and xXxPunkxRockxXx.

    Also–I would not mess with Brawley if you piad me. That is one mean-eyed cat.

    ETA- For some reason I couldn't get Blogger to take my WordPress login.

  4. I want one, of course.
    Also I saw a few posts back you mentioned the AWP. Are you still thinking of coming? I'll be there!

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