joanna family letterHot on the heels of November’s National Novel Writing Month comes a new writing challenge, celebrating a literature of a different sort: the good old-fashioned letter. International Correspondence Writing Month starts February 1. The challenge? Write and mail one letter a day, the old-fashioned way.

So, why letter-writing? The ‘Incowrimo’ website sums it up succinctly: “It’s simple. It’s fun. It’s rewarding.” But I think it’s more than that. When I wrote about this topic for TeleRead some time ago. I rhapsodized about the trove of hand-written letters my grandfather left us, ranging from the sublime (a hidden compartment in the wall of his basement workshop with a cache of love letters my grandmother wrote him during the War) to the ridiculous (a neatly organized binder containing his complete correspondence with the synagogue during a months-long dispute over a bottle of schnapps). My relationship with my grandmother was a pivotal one in my life. Seeing those letters, in her own handwriting, gave me chills. They had such a profound love story. I want that for me and my own Beloved.

And of course, there is a rich tradition of epistolary writing in literature. Anne Frank wrote her famous (and now disputed) diary as a series of letters to an imaginary friend called ‘Kitty.’ And in the fiction world, works as diverse as ‘Dracula’ and ‘The Princess Diaries’ use the letter-writing format as part of the story.

So, why not dive in to some letter-writing this month? You’ll be in good company. And if you get stuck on who to send them to, the Incowrimo people have even put together a list of people who would like to receive your letters. Have fun!

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