I wouldn't want to jinx this, but I'm so, so excited because it seems that I'm finally getting ahead with my letters, replying to all of my penpals. Yay! ^_^ So excited! After nearly... a year and a half of holding a bunch of unanswered, unopened letters crammed in a nook of my desk, I'm finally down to the one I'm answering and one more. Really, I'm working on my reply to a letter to a friend in Austria, and then have a letter from a friend in the U.S. and I'll be done! I'll be back on track! I'll be ready to be a good penpal again! Well, maybe that's reaching too far, as we have to see how do things go when I get my replies, but so far, really, it feels awesome to be this close to be ready with all of my letters to my friends, having shortened... well, not shortened, but brought their waiting to an end.
If you ask me, as someone who has gone through a letter-jam that lasted me from 2013 to present, what advise would I give to people in the same situation, well, I really don't have any advise to give, that's not what you already know: keep working through it, but don't force yourself to write if you don't feel like writing.
Of my penpals, I must say that while working through our letters, I realized something about all of us: actually we all are on the same page. I noticed that pretty much all of our letters had the same starting: "I'm so sorry I replied to you this late". Ok, I won the prize to replying tardiness, with over a year of delay in some cases - and I'm sorry and ashamed because of that - but yes, we all tend to reply to each other in a couple of month spans of time. Why? Well, because my penpals and I are all rather busy women and have our hands full with our jobs, and more often than not, also our relationships, our studies or even our personal projects, like buying a house, moving, remodeling and so on. Neither of us is some college kid who has plenty of time and energy for long letter writing between exam periods, so that we would be able to reply not in a matter of months, but a matter of hours. I know, back when I was 20, I would be often posting my replies one or two days after I received the letter from a friends, letters often 40 A4 sheets long, on both sides. And I still had time to study and party.
Well, truth is that when you are young, you really can do that. Spend hours letter writing, studying just a little here and there and yet keep all in your head, then go shopping, partying until 4 am twice a week, get completely hammered and then pour a can of tomato juice into your gut and be ready for classes at 8 am. I know, that was my routine when I was 20. But at 40, your body isn't plugged all the time to that endless source of energy. You need a greater effort to study, and what you could absorb at 20 in a night, at 40 takes you four weeks of everyday studying for 4 to 6 hours. You can't party until 4 am, because by 10 pm you are tired. Your obligations and concerns are different, and so, as your job takes a chunk of your time and energy, your personal concerns, household matters, relationship matters, all chip off from your schedule and your battery, the time to delve into writing letters also suffers.
My friends, many younger than me, others my age, are in this stage of life, which is good because we understand each other also that way. There are never hard feelings for the delay, never a lost friendship over this, and always lots of understanding. So I have proposed to my friends that we stop apologizing for delays and accept this as the natural rhythm of our correspondence. Truth to be told, the delay in the reply of our friends is also a blessing, because we are just as busy as they are, and though we love to hear from them, while we wait we can work on our daily life and accumulate more stories to then tell them about.
I know I've been inexcusably late with my letters - though now I worked hard to get all my correspondence done - I don't feel like my penpals have anything to apologize for, even if it takes them five years to reply. We are all busy, working, interesting, complex women, and in order to be so, we need time to manage our interesting, complex lives.