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Write letters by hand

Hand-written Letters

A few weeks ago, I attended a writing workshop, only this one involved letter writing! I blogged about it here, telling folks I would be interested in exchanging actual, hand-written letters with them.

Three people wanted to write to me, of whom one is undergoing a move, so might begin later.

Of the other two, one is a very old blog-friend, who I’ve remained in touch with since before this blog…nearly five years. He is an amazing writer, and I’m looking forward to his letters, which I’m sure would be chock-full of details of his home-town.

The other is from a lady I do not know at all, a recent blog-friend. I loved her passion for wanting to letter-write though, so I said yes. She is a writer too, because that is the only clause I put for my penpals, they must be writers by profession, aspiration, or practice… I would want those who write for a living, but those who write/blog/scribble for a hobby are also very welcome.

So I wrote to my newly-acquired penpals last weekend, created short writing challenges for them to complete before they open the envelope with my letter, and rambled ahead in my usual fashion when writing my letters.

It was fun. I got to play with pen and paper and glue and stamps, something I haven’t done in a while. I don’t know if they’ve written to me yet, but today I dropped them notes on the internet saying I’ve written to them.

Cheating, I know.

But I’m so eager to get this process going, actually have a correspondence, that I let myself cheat.

Writing those letters brought mixed emotions, I had not sent my hand-writing to strangers before, and having never had penpals in my childhood, stepping into this whole area as an adult scared me a little. My handwriting suddenly felt precious, too revealing. I was self-conscious when I wrote, which means I probably did not write well.

I did feel a little inspired though, and promptly wrote a letter to one of my characters, which I think would be fun to send to a penpal! As a writer, I have to forever find new ways to trick my Muse into appearing, and this was as good a method as any.

Now I ย wait for my replies, or maybe, my correspondents have written to me in the meanwhile…which means my letterbox will have a real letter soon, meant ย just for me, and not bills, flyers, offers ย and writing contracts. I don’t mind the last, but just saying…

If any of you reading this post would like to jump into a (possibly creative) correspondence through hand-written letters, feel free to pop me an email, or leave a note in the comment here, and I’ll send you a mailing address.

I look forward to sharing writing prompts, pictures, vignettes, bits and pieces of fiction, and hope not to bore my penpals out of their respective skulls.

Write to me!

Damyanti Biswas

Damyanti Biswas is the author of You Beneath Your Skin and numerous short stories that have been published in magazines and anthologies in the US, the UK, and Asia. She has been shortlisted for Best Small Fictions and Bath Novel Awards and is co-editor of the Forge Literary Magazine. Her next literary crime thriller, The Blue Bar, is represented by Lucienne Diver from The Knight Agency, and was published by Thomas & Mercer on January 1, 2023.

I appreciate comments, and I always visit back. If you're having trouble commenting, let me know via the contact form, or tweet me up @damyantig !

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  • Damyanti says:

    Gladys, I’ve begun writing to a group of kids in India, and that is a whole different experience! Thanks for telling me about your experience writing to kids.

  • indigo bunting says:

    Have you heard from anyone? Would love to read a followup to this someday.

  • Just when I thought pen pals are for kids, I met you guys and I’ve read this article. Let us keep the art of writing letters alive. Happy writing.:)

  • Something I forgot earlier:
    I have a boy I write to in Etheopia. This is part of PLAN an organisation which works with the world’s poorest children so they can move from poverty to a future with opportunity. This they do in 48 of the world’s poorest countries. But I am sure most of those who come here know about it and maybe contribute themselves. This is not just about donating money to support children and their families/communities but a means of communication and exchange of ideas. I get hand-written letters from the child I sponsor and I write letters to him, sending pictures and photographs of scenery, farm animals, family and so on, plus things like stickers. I can now send emails too. No doubt this has been brought in because some sponsors rarely (if ever) write letters. I have sent an occasional email but I always reply to letters by hand (along with items as above). Occasionally I receive photographs of the child and it is lovely to see them growing up. (This is not my first PLAN child). It is sobering to realise the lack of the simplest things we take for granted. (Plan workers help the children write the letters and then translate the letter into English). PLAN children ‘have a say’ and are agents of change in their communities.
    This is truly purposeful letter-writing, even if kept to simple activities and ideas.

  • Damyanti,
    To answer your question, the Elandra (work in progress) posts on my new blog are incapable of comments – don’t know why. I do appreciate you taking your time to visit, though. I’ve only posted a few little things and will eventually post more because I’m new to the blog scene and a bit shy right now. Thanks again – I know time is scarce . . .

    • Damyanti says:

      Um, all you have to do is go to Settings > Comments and you’ll see all that is possible to do with comments. Mail me if you need more help.

  • Damyanti says:

    Do join in, Charles. It’ll be great. You sound like my father, who writes absolutely gorgeous, error-free script in his letters. Mine are just things I throw up now and then, full of missed words, spelling mistakes and the odd word word crossed out. I call them…err…spontaneous! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • bronxboy55 says:

    I’ve been exchanging handwritten letters with an older cousin in Sicily for the past eight years. As I write each one, I can almost feel a different part of my brain trying to rouse itself into action. There’s no way of deleting errors cleanly, other than to start all over with a clean sheet of paper. And the time-frame affects what I write, too, because I know she won’t receive the letter for at least two weeks. The whole process requires more focus — undivided attention, really. I hope you’re happy with the results, Damyanti. I’d love to join in one of these days.

  • Hi, Damyanti,

    A novel idea . . . very nostalgic. I have a doctor’s penmanship and my arm cramps in less than a paragraph. I wish you well with the letter-writing. By the way, something very exciting happened to me. I had a piece published on, my first positive recognition in twenty years. I am so excited to be back in the game . . .

    • Damyanti says:

      Wow, congratulations!

      I’m going great guns with the letter-writing, and my own penmanship is not very far from a doctor’s ๐Ÿ™‚

      Btw, just wanted to say I can’t find a way to comment on your blog…does it not allow comments?

  • DarcKnyt says:

    I wish schools would teach penmanship again, My writing is horrendous, my printing more engineering-style and too cumbersome. Writing more than a few lines makes my hand worse and harder to read. Alas, a lost art. I’ve become a slave to a keyboard.

    And the workshop sounds great, because I could never figure out how to write something to someone and make it interesting. Some writer, eh? ๐Ÿ™‚

    Have fun!

    • Damyanti says:

      The workshop was fun.

      Penmanship will go extinct in a decade or two, I think…unless hobby-luddites like me still insist on it ๐Ÿ™‚

  • I doubt anyone could read my handwriting!

    • Damyanti says:

      Alex, that’s no reason not to write by hand once in a while…it is a whole different experience. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • I understand what you are saying. It is something very personal and creative. (Unfortunately, the time I take to do anything these days I don’t need help to slow down. Just as well I don’t have many letters to deal with.) But I have ‘lost’ most of the writing friends I used to share ideas with. They have moved on to other things so we have nothing left in common.
    I wish you much happiness (and success) as you explore this creative venture.

  • I doubt anyone would be keen to get my hand written-letters! They would need deciphering. Of course, writing letters on the computer is relatively new for me, that is, considering my age. My hubby writes everything by hand unless it is something he wants me to type. Many people in our age group only write by hand because they cannot do any other. But since everyone has a phone these days (not so very long ago they were luxuries) there is not the need to write unless something is being sent at the same time. Hence, I still write personal letters occasionally (even if typed) and post them off, sometimes with a book, photographs or various items of interest. But, inevitably, this gets less as time goes by. For me it is a joy to be able to use the Internet to write letters and include attachments. Such things (including mobile phones) were the stuff of science fiction when we were young! But I do have a thick file of both hand-written and typed personal letters. Plus letters and cards thanking me for personal services (such as when I was engaged in pastoral work and the conduction of funerals.) All these personal communications are heart warming and worthy of safe-keeping.

    • Damyanti says:

      Gladys, I do love the convenience of the internet…it makes communication easier.

      But in this project, it is all about creativity– not communication of information but of ideas. One blog friend from this blog has already signed on, so I’m all excited about carrying out correspondence using hand-written letters!

      Also, I love how it slows things down, I only need write probably two letters a month to each of my correspondents…even if the post is all on time. Much more doable than dozens of emails whizzing around! ๐Ÿ™‚

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