Apr 19, 2015

A Matter of Letters: The Mojo To Write

Yes, I'm fully aware that I owe you a post about scarfs, but currently it's so hot I rather not wrap anything around my neck (though my friend Andrea, and now my dear Arjen, have a beautiful string infinity scarf I'd love to wear! And it would be perfect, even in this weather), so that post will be postponed until whenever I feel like writing about it. Not fair? Hey, not like you are paying to read this blog, so deal with it. Besides, if I manage to get my hands around that lovely scarf, rest assured that in 24 hours of it's first use you'll have the scarf post.

Picture taken at Thon Hotel EU, Brussels.
Letter half written and my first
Lamy fountain pen.
Today's post, however, it's about a penpal situation: the lost of the mojo to write letters.

Basically, when you have penpals and you engage in snailmail conversations, they are that: long conversations thrown on paper with the aid of a pen or a pencil. (Mostly a pen, I have yet to find a penpal who writes with pencil... at least once.) Seen this way, the process of writing letters is simple, just like a talk: your friend writes something to you, you reply and say some more, and your friend replies and says some more... and it goes on and on and on. The fun about penpalling is that some topics can go on and on for ages. I remember a friend of mine - very dear - with whom I wrote for many years about the topics of love and freedom/independence. If we would have kept writing letters to each other, I'm sure we would still be developing those two subjects. Letters with penpals also often include the most delectable details of each other's lives and our environment. The ongoing office stories of which you can't have enough, the family stories, the friend stories, the latest purchase, the books each are reading, the TV series each like the best... it's like a very long and lovely coffee break with a friend, full of just about everything.

Letters open you to the chance to have the whole story, not cut because it's late and the coffee shop is closing on the two of you, a constant conversation not interrupted by cellphones and mobile internet, people passing by... it's a one on one, full disclosure, no interruptions communication experience, even if you stop while reading or while writing: it's a perfect channel.

However, it might happen that you suddenly don't feel it in yourself to engage in that sort of conversation. Not because you don't love it, or you don't want it, but because suddenly there's something inside you stopping you. You might enjoy very much your friend's letter and you want to reply to it, but the words refuse to flow down your pen. Maybe you even feel like your soul is a bit heavy when you think about writing, and that sensation keeps pulling you away from the pen&paper. For a penpaller, that's horrible. Soon letters from their different friends start to arrive and they don't even dare to open them because they can't still bring themselves to write. What used to be something awesome - getting a letter - is suddenly something dreadful, because the penpaller don't want to let down any of their friends. So what to do? Force the words out and write gloom, blah letters or wait?

I've been through a spell like that, and maybe I'm still not fully recovered. In my case, what I found useful was to wait it out, take letters little by little, and often send postcards to my friends to let them know that I've received their letters but can't reply to them just yet.

I don't know any secrets to defeat the loss of mojo, and if someone has a tip I'm all ears. My advise for anyone in this situation would be to be honest, wait it out and send a postcard. Postcards are small, so sure you can squeeze a few lines onto them out of yourself to explain the situation to your penpals, right? If they are good penpals (like my penpals), they'll be supportive and understanding. If they are not, well, what better chance to find that out.

If you are on the other side of this equation, and I've been there too, hey, be supportive! A penpal is a friend, and if they don't have it in them to write at the moment, don't force them. Drop them a postcard or an e-mail, let them know you are thinking of them, but don't rush them. They eventually get their mojo back and things will go back to normal. :-)

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