It’s a weird old world we’re living in these days, especially online where traditional forms of media are falling behind in favour of social media, and the news sites that still exist care more about clicks and views than producing interesting content.
I realized recently that much of what I read on an average day is often a rehash of another story or article from a different site, likely posted a couple of days before. And even then, a lot of what I’m coming across (aside from local, breaking news) is just variations on the same theme. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of truly original content out there.
What’s in your mailbox today? I bet there are probably some bills, and also some flyers for stuff you probably don’t care about. If you’re lucky, maybe there’s a magazine, or a package for something you ordered online. But do you know what’s not there? A nice card or letter.
Letter writing has fallen by the wayside. In these days of social media, why would anyone even bother to send cards or letters to their friends or family? Especially when email or social media is so much faster. What a waste of paper, right?
Except that getting a card or letter in the mail makes people feel good. Even if – especially if – it’s not a special occasion like a holiday or birthday, getting a card from someone you love, solely for the purpose of telling you that they love you and are thinking about you, feels absolutely fantastic. And sending letters, to loved ones or to strangers, can also make you feel pretty great.
But you must give in order to receive, so start by writing a letter to someone. If you can’t think of anyone you know who might appreciate this gesture, there are plenty of organizations where you can send letters to strangers, or nominate someone to receive letters. Pretty soon, you’ll become addicted to nice pens and fancy stationery, and you’ll have a full-blown hobby that spreads a whole lot of joy.
And oh, look, Valentine’s Day is coming up. So get to it. Not sure you want to send letters to friends and family in case they think you’re silly? There are lots of strangers who might like a letter as well.
I seem to be starting my new year at somewhat loose ends. While 2011 was a very good and productive year in terms of work, and certainly beat 2010 in terms of emotional issues (yay for nobody close to us dying), I was left feeling that I didn’t accomplish very much.
This whole food writing thing, you see, well it was/is somewhat of a diversion. My original goal in “becoming a writer” was to write novels, or lovely descriptive essays. Since 2005 I’ve had a 90,000 word novel sitting in a drawer, waiting for me to get up the nerve to send it off to an agent or publisher. I also have about half a book’s worth of food-related memoirs and essays and a list of other pieces to write…
The food writing thing happened a bit by accident. A friend who had once worked as Margaret Atwood’s assistant told me that to help get publishers interested in my fiction, it would help to have “a name”. A series of events led to job offers at a couple of publications and then Greg and I started TasteTO, and suddenly I had “a name”. (At least it seems so, based on the number of people who Google my name and hit this website.)
I am not good at doing nothing. I can sit still – to watch a TV show or a movie, or read a book. I can enjoy a day at the beach, or a walk in the woods. But I’m really not good at doing “nothing”.
I am supposed to be “on hiatus”. This was supposed to be a break from a pretty constant 3 years of running TasteTO without a real break. Because even when we took breaks – over the Christmas holidays when site traffic is slow, for instance – we were still fiddling around with stuff; cleaning up the back end of the site, planning for new stories, columns, etc.
The plan was to take at least a week and do “nothing”. That would probably include lots of reading. Maybe some shopping, or lunch with friends. But not work. There was work to do, and the plan was to start mid-month. Instead I started this week. My days of doing nothing consisted of 2 days of being sick with a cold and sleeping. Then it was back to work, because I can’t seem to not turn this damned computer on.