Lately a lot of people have been asking me about the snail mail I send. I figured it’s been a while since I shared this story, and never in the one place, so I thought I’d give it a go today. Forgive me if you already know this story: please enjoy the pretty pictures and I’ll be back with something new tomorrow.
So back a few years ago, I wrote a little novella called Airmail. It was about snail mail between strangers. A girl chose a phone number out of the phone book, at random, and started writing letters to the stranger. As her letters became increasingly surreal and urgent the recipient, an old man by the name of G.L. Solomon, was moved to shake off the shackles of his curmudgeonly, routine-driven life and experienced something of a “life renaissance.”
When the book came out, I thought it would be a fun thing to write letters to readers. So I promised to write a personal letter of thanks to anyone who read Airmail (and I did). Some of them wrote back to me, which was wonderful.
As time went by, other readers found me online, and wrote to me from all over the world. Some of them drew pictures on their mail, sent ephemera, snippets of their lives. They wrote amazing things about how my book had reached them at the right moment in their lives. Letters like this:
I am staying at a youth hostel in East Berlin and stumbled across a copy of your book. I am a forty year-old woman traveling with my 14 year old son, and readily identified with Mr Solomon’s bemusement when he first enters the hostel (it was my first time staying at a hostel!). Being forty this year was hard for me and I too am traveling and gathering more marbles. It’s not so much that I haven’t lived an adventuresome life, it’s just that suddenly your life seems so much shorter while the list of things you want to do grows bigger, and you realize that you have spent the last 10 years of your life raising kids and working. (could this be what a mid-life crisis is all about……duh) It’s amazing how at certain critical points in your life the right book or the right experience occurs. Your book is part of that for me. Today I walked past some graffitti on the side of a cafe -’ Life is not over yet ‘ it read.
You cannot imagine how that letter made my day! (Well probably you can.)
Since I started doing this – writing Airmail, writing to book readers, writing to blog readers – I discovered a whole new community of people who love snail mail. And they are the BEST people. There’s something about people who take the time to write and send letters, and read what others send them. Nine times out of ten (probably more), they are kind, considerate, lovely people. Often funny and clever. Always generous and creative. This community is the best thing to have come out of writing my book.
Meanwhile… we had originally planned a bit of a book launch when Airmail came out. A bookstore in Sydney was going to host it, and a local online magazine was going to host a bit of an ‘after party’ on a rooftop, with a snail mail theme. We ordered a box of books ready for this event (books were included in the ticket price), but then we moved from Sydney to Queensland. We figured I could still fly back to Sydney for the event, but planning it got a lot trickier. Then we moved from Queensland to Adelaide, and the planning got even more difficult. And a move back to Sydney seemed less and less likely. We started putting out feelers in Adelaide for bookstores that might host a book launch instead but to be honest by then my heart wasn’t really in it. Then I went overseas for a month. Then I fell pregnant. Then we moved yet again, this time to Melbourne. And by then it felt like the book had been out forever (it was less than a year but the gloss had come off), and I admit I felt kind of deflated and a bit of a failure.
People were still buying my book and reading it and writing me lovely letters, but that box of books from the launch-that-didn’t-happen sat sadly at the bottom of a cupboard, mocking me. Until you. I can’t tell you how honoured I feel that you come here to this little space of mine. That you read my blog, that you take the time to comment, and that you share your stories with me. Every time I hear from you, I am blown away. Every time! It is so amazing. YOU are so amazing.
So I decided to use that sad little box and turn it into something really happy: a way to say thank-you to you for taking the time to read this blog. And because I want you to know I care, I do my best to make the mail I send you as pretty as possible. Thank you!
ps. If you subscribe to this blog (or you want to) and you’d like me to send you mail like the parcels you see on this page, just leave me your details using the form on this page.
UPDATE 5 July 2014: as of today I have run out of copies of Airmail to send you. However I would still love to send you something nice by snail-mail to say thank you for reading this blog, and I will still do my best to make it look pretty. If you have subscribed to this blog (or you want to), simply fill in your postal details on this page. And if you’re still keen to read Airmail, there’s a list of stockists here.