Posts Tagged Letter Writing
If you want a break from the keyboard and computer screen, dig out your fountain pen (or a biro would probably do) and have a go at this competition:
The Letters Page is asking for handwritten letters for their Protest Issue. The website requests:
Letters of complaint, letters of objection, letters of furious indignation; eyewitness reports from street protests around the world; recollections of recent and not-so-recent protests and sit-ins and camps and campaigns; reflections on the meaning or purpose of protests, and on the use of the letter as a political tool; letters to and from and between protesters and protest sites. These are the letters we’re looking forward to reading in our next issue. We’re looking for letters with a sense of urgency. We’re looking for some news from now.
Somehow, I think me complaining about all the waiting around on last week’s coach trip might not fit the bill. But if you’ve got something meatier to protest about, pick up your pen! Each letter used will earn the writer £100. But be quick, it’s postal submission only and entries must be received by October 29th 2014.
The Letters Page is a literary journal published by Nottingham University’s School of English.
Full details of the competition are here.
Christmas Round Robin Letters – do you love them or loathe them?
I don’t usually write one but this year I did and it’s currently winging its way to those I rarely see. The cost of postage drove me to include the letter with my cards. I begrudge paying 50p (second class postage) just to stick a card in an envelope so I decided that people were going to hear what my family did in 2012 – whether they wanted to or not. After all, I’m supposed to be a writer so it shouldn’t be difficult to make a round-up of the last 12 months sound interesting.
It was a lot harder than I expected!
I tried to be mindful of the fact that no-one wants to read a list of my daughters’ achievements and their plans for the future. I’ve received letters like that and they leave me feeling totally inadequate. So I skirted over that and moved onto how the recession has impacted the working lives of my husband and me. Then I decided that talk of redundancies was too depressing so I moved on to the interesting things we’ve done in our spare time – and came up with nothing!
Writing a round robin letter is like trying to have a one-sided conversation in the dark. It’s impossible to gauge whether you are boring people because there’s no facial expressions to read and no feedback in the way of comments. So I did my best and sent it out . It’s up to the recipients whether they read it or bin it and from now on I’ll be much less dismissive of the letters I receive because I know how difficult they are to write!
If you’ve had any letters printed in a newspaper or magazine during 2012 you might be interested in a competition run by the Association of Christian Writers. ACW’s UK letter writing competition is looking for the best letters published in any national, regional or local magazine or newspaper during 2012. There is a prize of £50 for the best single letter published and prizes of £100, £50 and £25 for collections of 6 letters published in 6 different publications. Closing date is 31/12/2012. Full details are here.
After a pep talk with Helen, my writing buddy, I’ve set myself some writing targets to get me through to the end of the year.
One of them is to write a letter a week for publication in a magazine. There are several benefits to this:
- The satisfaction of something quickly written and submitted
- Lots of potential markets – so hopefully the possibility of success
- I will need to scan the magazines available in the newsagent and might spot new markets for other types of writing
I told Peter Hinchcliffe, editor of Open Writing, about my new goal and he suggested a further benefit of letter writing. Many years ago, as a young man, he was trying to break into journalism and started writing letters to his local newspaper every week, with a good ‘hit’ rate. Then he wrote and asked to join them for work experience – the editor recognised Peter’s name from the letters and he was taken on. A successful career in newspapers followed.
I don’t expect to land a job on a glossy magazine through the letters page – but occasionally letters can get followed up…
At the weekend I went with my daughter to Leicester University – she’ll be sending in her UCAS application for a Zoology degree in a few weeks time. Whilst we were there we went round the David Wilson Library (pictured). It is a wonderful, light, airy building, opened in 2008 by the Queen. At the time students waxed lyrical about their new library’s toilets. One was quoted in the Independent as saying, “If these toilets were a bird, they would be an eagle as they soar above the rest of the competition.” The toilets were nice – but not that outstanding! Although if I was living in grotty student house, I might think differently…
So it seems that whilst our public libraries are cutting opening hours or shutting down altogether, university libraries are thriving. Let’s hope that these wonderful facilities make young adults value the benefit of libraries so that as they start work and settle down, they might join in the campaigning to save and improve our public library system.
Finally, am I going mad or do the current and previous edition of Writers’ Forum magazine both say ‘October’ on them?
In 2007 I was the David St John Thomas Charitable Trust Letter Writer of the Year (unfortunately this particular award is no more). To win I had to provide a portfolio of letters that I’d had published over the previous 12 months and in the course of putting this together I picked up several tips for getting in to print:
- Be concise – usually the shorter the letter the better
- Study the publication – look at the letters already chosen for publication and use these as your template. Mimic their language and sentence structure. Take note of their subject matter – are they funny family anecdotes or intelligent comments on past features in the magazine.
- Say thank you – magazines like positive feedback so tell them if an article they published has helped or inspired you in some way
- Include a photograph – women’s magazines in particular use pictures of their readers, so including one will increase your chance of publication
- Don’t duplicate your letters – as with short stories and features, don’t send the same letter to two different publications. Letters must be ‘exclusive’.
- Target a variety of magazines – if you write too often to the same publication your name may go on a ‘banned’ list because readers complain if the same name continually appears. Once a letter is accepted, leave a gap before writing again.
- Be quick off the mark – if you’re commenting on something that’s appeared in the magazine, email your letter ASAP so that it can be printed in the next or second issue.
- Keep records – if a letter hasn’t appeared in print after several months and it’s content is not magazine specific, try sending it somewhere else.
There is a ‘How To’ article of mine covering this topic here.
Today’s writing prompt follows on from the theme of letters and is:
A sealed envelope