To help us with our challenge we were sent a fab kit of writing essentials which included my very own initial wax stamp kit. Along with that I also received an alphabet stamp ink set, feathered pen with ink, an assortment of pens, envelopes and my very own logo headed paper. When I received my items I was like a giddy school girl and couldn't wait to try it all out and the wax stamp set instantly became my favourite item.When it came to writing my letter I found it difficult to start it off, but I always find it difficult to start off a letter to someone I have never met. As I have wrote to many different people from all over the world I do have certain go to questions and short paragraphs about myself. Here are a few great questions to ask when writing to someone you don't know:
- In your spare time do you have any hobbies that you like to do?
- What is the town like where you live? Is it noisy or peaceful?
- What is your favourite TV show?
- If you could spend the day with any celebrity who would it be and what would you do?
- Are you a fan of Marmite?
I find it is important to ask some questions that aren't as serious for many reasons. Some people aren't to comfortable telling all to a total stranger so if you just ask questions about their work, family and hobbies you may only get a short response and struggle to find a flow of conversations between letters. I have had a couple of prison penpals so I have to be careful with what I ask them and also what I share with them, I always make it clear that there will be no money given and no relationship other than a friendship through being a penpal.
As I mentioned I often find it difficult to know how to start a letter, I want the person who is reading it to not be totally bored and have to read a letter of me giving every detail of day to day life. A few examples of how to start a letter that I use are:
- Hey, I hope this letter finds you and the stamp hasn't fallen off. Let me introduce myself, I'm Jade a 28 year old living in England. I can tell you yes I have met the Queen it was very brief and I was a little girl.
- Hello, My name is Jade I'm a 28 year old born in April my star sign is Aries, if your into that kind of thing. I'm a stay at home mum with to two children a son and a daughter. I live in West Yorkshire in England which isn't such a bad place, like most places it has it's good bits and bad bits. I'm sure your town is the same?
Once you are in the flow of writing I think it can become easy to get carried away with writing about yourself. Of course you want your penpal to know who it is they are writing to but do if you say too much it can be a little bit too much and make it difficult for the recipient to ask questions and thus makes conversation difficult. As well as making your letter interesting it can also me nice to include a photo which cuts out having to describe how you look which I'm pretty sure nobody enjoys writing and if you are anything like me it would look like this I have brown wavy to curly hair and blue eyes it doesn't really describe me and could literally be anyone with brown hair and blue eyes.
Some people like to decorate their the paper they are writing on with washi tape and drawings. This isn't something I would do straight away and I have never used coloured or patterned tape. As most of my penpals have been in prisons I didn't think they would pass the checks if they had tape over them as it could be seen as a way to smuggle contraband (yep it can be down by tiny bits of tape) or used to cover up messages that you didn't want the officers to see. I have included drawings but this was after several letter exchanges and was of a cartoon character that they had never seen before.
I'm still waiting for a response from my international penpal and will continue to write to prison penpals. You may find that strange but it is a hobby that I really enjoy and all my prison penpals are in the USA usually serving really long sentences as I tend to be drawn to those who have done really bad crimes such as murder, it is extremely interesting writing to these people and although I in noway condone their actions they are people many of which have no family of friends and loneliness is awful. I will be writing about my prison penpals in a post to come so look out for that.