playing with paper

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Letter Writing Styles

"Space mail" pocket tag card and letter mailed 26 September 2011

Vintage finds card and letter mailed 26 September 2011

I was able to write two letters over the past weekend to two very different pen pals. I was musing afterward how my letter-writing style changed based on the recipient.

The first letter was to a young, single man in Brazil. We have exchanged a handful of letters and postcards, so I don't yet know a great deal about him. He is gifted in several languages (I am not) and his written English is excellent. When I am writing to someone who does not speak English as their first language, I am very aware of my grammar and tend not to use contractions or abbreviations, including "&." Despite my formality, I feel my tone is still warm and friendly. I enjoy sharing whatever is currently happening in my daily life, hoping to give him a glimpse of family life in the United States. I feel I sometimes limit my content because I'm not sure if all that I might write as a woman and mother would be interesting to a male reader.

The second letter was to a newly-engaged young woman in Chicago. We have exchanged perhaps two or three handfuls of letters, and she keeps a daily blog, so I feel I know more about her. We have several common interests, not just letter-writing and mail art. Often our letters are filled with our current activities, sprinkled with bits from our past, but there is more insight and emotional content. Since we already share language and cultural history, I can write more naturally and freely. Although I feel more at ease sharing with her than I do with my male pen pal, I still try to filter my content by writing only what I think I would feel comfortable telling her face to face.

Upon further reflection, I suppose part of any good writing is tailoring how and what is written to the intended audience. I am sure my personal writing style will continue to evolve as I write more letters. So, I will just have to go and write some more letters!

(I say "young" as I know both recipients are five year my junior. Plus being a mom seems to add on the years more quickly!)

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