I have been writing letters all my life. To my far away Grandmother when I was six, to once-a-year camping companions a few years later, to home from away, and to friends from home. And letters came back from all these people. In those days before email or texts or mobile phones, letters flew between us like Hogwarts Owls. Real letters, with stamps in the corner and doodles on the envelope. With folded paper inside, and the individual handwritings of friends and relations that were as familiar as their voices.
Letters began my writing life. “What can I do?” I asked of a friend, stuck as I was at the foot of a mountain, in a landscape of great dampness and beauty, with a temporary job at the village pub and so little money I gave up hot water.
“Write,” she said (she was an English student). “You can write letters. So. You could probably write a book.”
Every job has its perks, that is an old saying and ‘perk’ is an old word. It means a bonus, an extra, a gift. And to me it means the letters that come to me from my readers. I save the best, and the best now number hundreds.
Decorated and plain. Long and short. From very young people…
I can’t tell you how I love them!
Often their senders say to me, “I want to be a writer. How do I get started? Where do I begin?” Then I tell them they have already begun. They are writing letters. Magical things. They could lead them anywhere. They led me here!