According to writer Joseph Epstein*, “81 percent of Americans feel that they have a book in them — and should write it.” That’s approximately 200 million people who aspire to authorship.The Publisher Perspective piece goes on to say most won't. And given the publishing business can't.
The US Post Office announced the other day that they want to stop Saturday delivery. I suspect that probably will be ok, unless that is just a step toward cutting off the rest of the week, one at a time.
So, I'm calling out to the 200 million would be writers to instead write letters. If each would be writer wrote and sent two letters, at the current rate for a one ounce letter, it would raise $180 million for the post office. If they wrote two letters a week for a year, it would raise almost $10 billion a year for the post office.
And if one out of ten letters they wrote were answered, that would raise another $1 billion.
These could be personal letters to friends and relatives. Or they could be bits and pieces of their book. They could send out their book in serial form. They could make copies of each, sign them all individually, and send them out to five or ten people each time. Maybe they could get subscribers.
The post office still has beautiful stamps. We just got a set of the Earthscape stamps above.
Even if you don't aspire to write a book, you can write some letters to people you care about. I promise you they will pay more attention to it than to your email. And they'll still have it in five years.
I think about the letters I have in boxes downstairs. Letters from my grandparents written before I was born. Some are to my father who had made it safe to the US as they were trying to get visas to escape Nazi Germany. They never got the visas. They never got out. I never met them. But I do have letters they wrote. There are some from my grandmother written to her sister in the US around 1910. These are one of the only ways I can directly connect with my grandparents - the words they wrote give me a hint of who they were. The paper and ink give me a way to touch something they touched.
Perhaps that's why I'm taking this grandfathering stuff so seriously. I have no real confidence that this blog will survive for my granddaughter to read it in digital form. But for the time being, I'm here in real life for her.
How many of your emails will your grandchildren read? How many are worth reading? But pieces of paper with your words on them take more effort and you'll probably say something more significant. And one of the grandchildren will find them one day and connect to you in a totally new way.
So write to keep the post office, letters, stamps, and your history alive.
*I didn't know who Joseph Epstein was, so before posting this I decided to check. His Wikipedia page talks about a 1970 article he wrote that
continues his deleterious view of the subject today.