A blog for anyone who understands the joy of writing and receiving handwritten letters.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

What to write?

I'm seldom lost for words - any of my friends can tell you that. But again and again lately the question has arisen, what do you write in a first letter to someone you have never met?

I've received many lovely first letters since I began this blog - they were from Sine (US), Lorrie (Canada), Rebecca (UK), Joseph (US), Angelia (US), Rudy (US), Sue (US), Jennifer (US), Elle (US) and Esme (UK). Each of them was such a surprise and gave me a great deal of joy. I have been very busy writing back to each of you, so if you haven't received a reply from me just yet, you will soon.

Esme's arrived today and I think it was a very good illustration of what to write in a first letter. It was long, personal and anecdotal. I loved it, because this is something I struggle with a little bit. Esme admits that when she first started to get back into letter writing she looked up websites on letter-writing etiquette to make sure she was doing it right, and I can relate to that. Esme gave up on them, though, when it dawned on her that writing a letter can't really be taught or done to a formula - you just have to sit down and write. I agree!

I guess the usual thing in a first letter is to ask lots of questions and tell your recipient all the usual guff - age, job, hobbies, kids. That's a useful starting point, but I'm not sure it should start and end there. For me, the best first letters are the ones that break out and wind their way around a couple of good long tangents. It's in the rambling that you get more of a sense of the person, I think anyway.

I've written quite a few first letters in the past few weeks myself. They don't come as naturally to me as writing to an old friend, that's for sure. I have to think more - am I making sense? will they understand my writing? will they know what I mean if I use a particularly Australian turn of phrase? Am I boring them to death??? I cross my fingers and hope that the recipients will be forgiving.

Here is the envelope that Esme's fabulous letter came in.


You can see it before it was mailed here: Snail Mail Madness.

And here's a cute card that was also included:

I felt very special getting all this wonderful mailbox goodness. Hmmm... inspires me to write a few more first letters.

Love from Kaz

PS A big friendly welcome to Sue from Box 652. Hey, that rhymes :-).


  1. Love a good rambling letter :-)
    Great post.

  2. I'm so glad you received it ok (and that I didn't sound like a raving lunatic or anthing!) :o)

  3. Thanks Charmaine. :-)

    Es - it was a really lovely letter... I'll be writing back soon.

  4. Those openings can be a tricky mix of ask and reveal, can't they? Sounds like Esme covered it just right.

  5. 'Ask and reveal' - I like that. I guess it all comes down to what we ask and what we reveal!

  6. I think the finished first/intro letter is really interesting, though definitely difficult to write. Mine are always very different from each other, despite containing almost identical information... especially when written one after another.

    That is something I love about letter writing (and writing in general for me), you learn so much about yourself, as well as others. It's such a wonderful gift :)

    ps, I love Dorothy Parker :D