This evening I swapped one form of writing for another. I left behind my imaginary friends who speak to me, even in my sleep. I picked up a pen and paper, turned on the radio, poured a glass of wine. I attended to my ever growing letter reply pile. Yep! I have penpals, near and far all over the world.
This here is my rather messy desk and letters. It’s here that I write my novels, daydream and write hand written letters too. It’s after 11:00pm here in London, so the picture is not that bright, but you get the jest. Just thought I’d share a little personal picture of my creation space.
How did I start penpaling?:
Good question. About almost five years ago now, I started to take my French language learning seriously. I attended classes, worked online etc, but it was not the same. Learning academically became very boring., and I could not always make my classes. I wanted to make it fun, so I joined some online forums for language exchange partners. I also found out there were people out there, who love letter writer writing as much as me! I found some cool geeks to hang with, and I found some French speaking penpals. 🙂 I was on cloud nine lemme tell ya!
So the whole process started by exchanging my English for French, with others who wanted a language exchange in a fun informal way. I saw it as a way to remain fluent in the language and improve my grammar. It then grew, I started writing to English speaking pals, who had great profiles that I that contacted me. I have about awww maybe fourteen penpals now.
We write often at least once a month. Of late I’ve dropped off a bit, due to knocking out some serious word count for my books. The pile is growing to respond to.
Why write letters? You can send an email Kim.
Yeah, I hear ya. I know. But as a writer there’s something about hand written letters, that really appeals to me. It always has done, and always will. Some of my penpals I have been in contact with since day one. That’s a long time!
It’s also really cool to get to know someone via a slow burn way. Nothing is instant, and for me personally, the friendships I’ve maintained with my girlfriends via letter is very real. We talk about everything, and I mean everything. Once you click and bond with a pal via letter it’s such a great feeling. I also like to learn about different cultures and ways of life. My pals are all over the world.
Where are your pals?
In these counties:
Have you met any of your pals?
Yeah, sure I have I met two actually. My pal who lives in Paris she came to London last year. After a good few years of writing, it was mind blowing to hear her actual Parisian accent. Also my pal who lives in the south west coast of the UK, in a little place called Cornwell. Miles from London a good five hour train ride. I went to Cornwell on holiday last year. It was amazing to meet her in person we got on just as well, our sons also bonded well.
How has letter writing influenced me as a writer?
Well, if you’ve read A Stranger in France you’ll see exactly how it has influenced me! When I wrote that novel, I used letter writing to help tell the story, via the classic show don’t tell writing trick writers use. It’s a great trick to play out stories, and keep readers turning pages. Many use it via narration in third person or via dialogue, I did it via letter writer using first person from each character’s point of view. I totally broke the rules… Cool huh? I also used in in Not Just For Christmas too, well that was e-mail to be fair, but I used it as show don’t tell.
This right here is my journal, on top of my laptop I write my novels on. I also write in my journal daily. I have done for as long as I can remember. My earliest “dear diary” memories are from primary school, when I was about ten years old! My earlier diaries from my teens and twenties I threw away. I’m gutted I wish to God I never. I have diaries now dating back to when I was thirty years old. New Year’s Eve just gone, I actually read them all! I looked back at my life from the age of thirty -thirty four.
Letter writing is a form of expression I love. You have to sit and think about what you wish to say and how. A bit like when I write a chapter in a book, but a lot less formal… I’m not so caught up on grammar or punctuation. My pals probably read some of my letters and think sheeit and she calls herself a damn writer? Mwwahha! it’s true I just write as if I’m talking to my pals it’s so informal. My French grammar is not perfect either, even after all these years. My French pals must think I’ve learned very little after all these years. But hey! I’m trying.. the language structure is so different to English.
So that’s my other hobby and form of self expression outside novel writing. I love letter writing. It’s a forgotten art and I don’t think may people journal either.Who here writes hand written letters still? Anyone? Who here writes in a journal??
** listens out for the wind rustling the leaves**