Posts tagged with "correspondence" - Faerye Net 2013-02-15T04:05:48+00:00 Felicity Shoulders Anti-Anti-Valentine's 2013-02-15T04:05:48+00:00 2013-02-15T04:07:17+00:00 <p>It&#8217;s come to my attention that I haven&#8217;t made my position on Valentine&#8217;s Day clear: so unclear, in fact, that even my co-protagonist thinks I object to it. I don&#8217;t! I&#8217;m not anti-Valentine&#8217;s. I&#8217;m sort of mildly anti-anti-Valentine&#8217;s.</p> <p>As long as you can get past the fact that two thousand years and iterations ago, it was religious, I think it&#8217;s nifty to have a holiday celebrating love! I just think the focus on romantic love is&#8230;weird and reductive. The way most romantic relationships go, you probably should be showing love on the regular anyway. But our family, especially our friends? We may not say that enough&#8230;or at all. It&#8217;s easy to be ashamed or tongue-tied about how much our friends mean to us. I&#8217;m all for another push to tell them.</p> <p>This year, I&#8217;m taking part in <a href="" target="links">Mary Robinette Kowal</a>&#8217;s <a href="" target="links">Month of Letters Challenge</a>, and a few weeks ago I happened across a really ancient sheet of stickers: the plain red heart stickers that my mom must have had a bulk supply of when we were growing up. We sealed all the valentines with them for my whole childhood, as far as I can remember. It seemed like a sign to stop being lazy and send some love out this year!</p> <p><img src="" width="500" /></p> In praise of post 2009-01-28T13:02:53+00:00 2009-01-28T13:03:26+00:00 <p>If, like me, you have a fondness for postal mail and find paper letters a particularly meaningful way to connect with others, perhaps you will appreciate this report from the aftermath of the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake:<br /> <blockquote>&#8230;William Burke, the postmaster&#8217;s secretary, recounted what happened when he took a U.S. Mail sign from a streetcar barn and mounted it on the top of a car he had pressed into service to collect the mail.<br /> <blockquote>&#8220;The effect was electrical. As people saw the machine bearing the mail coming, they cheered and shouted in a state bordering on hysteria. We told them where the collections would be made in the afternoon and asked that they spread the news. As we went into the Presidio there was almost a riot, and the people crowded around the machine and almost blocked its progress. It was evidently taken as the first sign of rehabilitation and, as it proceeded, the mail automobile left hope in its wake&#8230;&#8221;</blockquote>&#8212; Simon Winchester, <em>A Crack in the Edge of the World</em></blockquote></p> <p>Perhaps we take the mail for granted, relying as we so often do now on faster, more ethereal transmissions. But think about it &#8212; for under two bits (for no money at all, in the generous wake of the earthquake) a man or woman you do not know will take your message and ensure it gets to your friends and family. Your piece of paper, your artefact, can cross all the great miles of this country safely and promptly, and assure your family with its very weight and reality that all is well. That&#8217;s civilization.</p> Write a fan letter, I dare you 2008-09-15T10:59:28+00:00 2008-09-15T11:16:05+00:00 <p>In my very limited experience of publishing (one story, baby! As a former teacher says, &#8220;In jazz, we say as long as you&#8217;ve been paid once, you&#8217;re a professional.&#8221;), fan letters are splendid little bombs of joy. I use the term &#8216;fan letter&#8217; generally: obviously, having published only one story, I cannot receive &#8216;fanatic&#8217; missives declaring how the writer has read all the kajillion stories I&#8217;ve written et c. et c. Also, they weren&#8217;t paper. I received a few e-mails around the time of my publication, one from a fellow writer and a couple from readers, saying they read and enjoyed my story. One chap said he hoped I published again soon.</p> <p>Is it necessary to describe how thoroughly my day was made by these things? When I saw my name in print &#8211; in <em>Asimov&#8217;s Science Fiction</em> no less &#8211; I felt the world would change. As I&#8217;m fond of quoting, I felt &#8220;Perhaps there may be golden trumpets!&#8221; But there were not, of course, as my more rational mind predicted. I still went to Queequeg&#8217;s every day, encountered the same scammers and scallywags, rejoiced if the weekly tip haul worked out to $1.60 an hour. What those e-mails told me was that I had been heard. Which, after all, is half of why we do this, right? Otherwise we&#8217;d all be Emily Dickinson, content to hoard our scribblings. When you&#8217;ve been heard, the world <em>has</em> changed. Your words are part of the internal universes of those who&#8217;ve read it, and knowing that, you feel changed as well.</p> <p>I hadn&#8217;t thought about it that deeply, or for a while, when I read the <a href="" target="links">September 2008 issue</a> of <em>Fantasy &amp; Science Fiction</em> the other day. The novella in it, &#8220;Arkfall&#8221; by Carolyn Ives Gilman, was wonderful. An intriguing setting, a compelling character conflict, and soon enough a fascinating plot. I enjoyed it immensely, not only for those separately listed elements, but for the way they interacted and informed each other. It was a beautifully balanced thing that caught the imagination and heart.</p> <p>And so, when I put the magazine down (always a sign of a good story: you can&#8217;t go on ravenously to the next), I wondered if I should look up the author and send her a note. I never would have considered this last year, but for some reason the idea did arise, and I couldn&#8217;t dismiss it. <em>I&#8217;d feel so foolish!</em> I thought. <em>What would I say?</em> Some slightly less gushy version of what appears above between &#8216;An&#8217; and &#8216;heart&#8217;, obviously. <em>But why should I suddenly start sending appreciative e-mails?</em> The answer to this one was just as obvious: because now I know what a difference it makes. I also told myself that sci-fi has a more collegial atmosphere, and it wasn&#8217;t really that odd to send a spec-fic author a note &#8211; very much of the spec-fic culture. (I don&#8217;t actually know if the literary mainstream engages in this note-writing activity or not, since I won&#8217;t be published in it until next summer &#8211; anyone want to enlighten me?)</p> <p>So I sat down and searched up her e-mail, wrote her a note, and pressed &#8216;send&#8217;. And you know what? She did appreciate it. Even widely published authors want to know they&#8217;re heard. I don&#8217;t know whether it made her day, but it sounds like it brightened it. So next time you read a story in a magazine that really strikes you, that you can&#8217;t stop thinking about, hang up your self-consciousness on a peg and write a fan letter. It&#8217;s a simple way to spread a little happiness in the world.</p> <p><em>For fun, I formalized the rules I made up for myself before writing the aforementioned e-mail: <a href="">here they are</a>.</em></p> Greeting Cards 2008-02-08T09:07:10+00:00 2008-05-25T20:09:22+00:00 <p>I&#8217;m hardly the first to note the many failures of the greeting card market. If I were, we wouldn&#8217;t have <a href="" target="links">someecards</a> to amuse us. However, I think it&#8217;s worth noting my frustrations.</p> <p>I am a person who writes a fair number of letters. Fewer than was the case when I rode the bus to work, or was regularly 5-10 minutes early to classes. However, I still write a few. To me, the physical artefact of a letter still means something. So I like noting events with cards. However, I like, you know, writing in them. Which means, of course, that my first problem with cards is not uncommon:<br /><b>1. Dear cardmakers, shut the heck up (and cool it with the lace.)</b> Since the mid-90s or so, the market has opened up such that cards which are simple in wording (&#8220;Happy Birthday!&#8221; &#8220;Congrats!&#8221;) do exist, and cards with more attractive aesthetics than &#8220;a doily on every square inch&#8221; also exist. However, they don&#8217;t prevail, and they&#8217;re not the default. If you&#8217;re browsing a small collection, or in a hurry, good luck<sup><a href="#fn1">1</a></sup>.</p> <p><b>2. Check your social assumptions if you want to make money</b>. Now, I&#8217;ve heard rumors that Hallmark has started making same-sex marriage congrats cards, but I haven&#8217;t seen them. And the assumptions go deeper than that. To put it coarsely, 80% of the marriage cards in the market cause unbearable cognitive dissonance in the mind of a <em>divorced</em> prospective purchaser. Even those who do heed #1 and keep themselves to a sentence tend to drip with Patriarchal and romance-cultic assumptions I find toxic. And let&#8217;s not even get into gendered birthday cards. You don&#8217;t have to make actively pinko feminist cards to please me. You just need to have options. They&#8217;ll sell.</p> <p>Related to both previous points, <b>3. Stock a greater variety of card messages</b>. I was recently at a gift shop, trying to pick up a Congrats card for a friend who won an amazingly huge poetry prize Of Awesomeness. 65% Birthday cards (of which 50% specify the relationship on the cover, for Extra Glurge and Extra Not Actually Requiring Effort), 10% Wedding, 10% Wedding Anniversary, 10% Baby, 3% Sympathy (all ugly as sin, and glurgey), and 2% Get Well Soon. I could have used a birthday card for a specific, non-pooky friend (that, I found.) <span class="caps">I WANTED</span> a congrats card. I could have used sympathy and get-well cards to replenish my supplies at home. But I bought none, because they had such a paucity that overwordiness and aesthetic horror were almost a given. Look, I know birthdays are the most common card occasion. But would it kill you to have one fewer rack of them? Maybe knock out the fourth &#8216;grandson&#8217; title, and put a freakin&#8217; congrats card?</p><p> The reason I think this relates to #2 is simple: demographics. A lot of my friends are writers. Most of those, and a huge segment of those remaining, are grad students. They are in a part of their life where they&#8217;re accomplishing great things. Many of them already have families, or aren&#8217;t going to have families for a while&#8212;baby cards need not apply. Many of them are already married, or aren&#8217;t getting married until they&#8217;re <span class="caps">NEVER</span>. Things I want to send cards about include graduating from grad school, getting nursing licenses, winning poetry prizes, having books published. Yeah, I can just write a letter, but having my friend open the envelope and see a big pretty &#8220;Congratulations!&#8221; rendered far more artistically than I can manage is <em>fun</em>. I&#8217;m sure the card industry, like every damn industry based on paper and post, is worried about the future. Well, I&#8217;m the future. I don&#8217;t look like June Cleaver and I don&#8217;t want to send the cards she did. Figure it out.</p> <p id="fn1"><sup>1</sup> One great brand seems to be <a href="" target="links">Recycled Paper Greetings</a> which sadly has no working &#8220;where to get &#8216;em&#8221; software on their website. They offer, however, artists like <a href="" target="links">Masha D&#8217;yans</a>, who watercolors vibrant, whimsical cards that don&#8217;t have a lot of palaver. And whose site links to two online shops that carry her line. If only she had more congrats cards, this whole rant would disappear in a puff of logic.</p> An open letter to Clark Kent 2003-06-24T11:16:47+00:00 2009-04-20T23:17:18+00:00 <p>Circa Season Finale, 2003<p><br /> <br /> Mr. Clark Kent<br /> 24 Ubermensch Road<br /> Smallville KS<br /> <br /> Dear Clark;<br /> <br /> I have been following your adventures with some interest. Recently, I sympathized with your desire not to conquer the world as allegedly destined. However, I have been increasingly dismayed at the methods you are employing to avoid that fate.<br /> <br /> Apparently in your search for role models as &#8220;foundling farm boy with phenomenal cosmic powers is destined to conquer the world,&#8221; you have lit upon Rand al&#8217;Thor as the chap to emulate. This is the only explanation I can posit from your decision to estrange everyone you care about &#8220;so they don&#8217;t get hurt,&#8221; including the several girls wooing you, and your decision to hare off by yourself with no plan and a backpack full of angst. Besides the fact that this behavior qualifies you as a wooly-headed lummox of the first water, and thus eligible for the Clue-by-4&#8482; (now with Kryptonite inlay) treatment, if you&#8217;ll read a bit further (I know it&#8217;s a bit heavier going than 18-page comic books) you&#8217;ll find your role model IS conquering the world with cosmic powers and iron fist. Duh, Mr. Kent.<br /> <br /> If you must emulate someone, might I suggest drawing upon your &#8220;farm boy with special powers and heroic destiny has a &#8216;dead father&#8217; who nonetheless speaks to him and urges him toward evil&#8221; archetype and get yourself a glowy sword.<br /> <br /> Most Sincerely,<br /> Felicity<br /> <br /> P.S. You are not going to get hot Lana-and-Chloe action, let alone hot Lana-Chloe-and-Wonder-Woman action, so if that&#8217;s why you&#8217;re pulling a Rand, give it up.