Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Pen Pals

I was updating the other day, and I came across a great idea for teachers. A class at one of the Daphne schools paired up with a class in Spanish Fort, and all the students became pen pals. Isn't that fun? And what a great way to teach writing.

When I was in high school (in the Stone Age), we didn't have texting. And teachers forbade passing notes in class. So naturally, my friends and I all wrote novella-length notes to each other and then passed them in the hallways to be read and answered in the next class. I still have a lot of them, and they are absolutely hilarious.

The best one involves one of my best friend's little dog running into her room, barfing on her carpet and then running out again. I don't remember what else happened, but I think she was on the phone with one of the fellas she had a crush on at the time. Maybe she was home sick. I don't remember.

Now Catherine has a little BFF at school, Ivey, and she and Ivey pass notes all day long. I have to admit, I love it. And I'm not really coming down too hard on her about it, because I really believe all this writing is great for her academic development.

I know all the kids I used to pass notes to in high school are currently excellent communicators. They communicate my ear off most excellently at least once a month when we manage to catch up with each other.

So back to pen pals. When I was about 12-ish, I had a pen pal in Tobago. I don't remember how I got involved in that program or the girl's name, but I remember reading her letters and imagining what she looked like and what her life was like.

She lived in a Third World country and we never met, but I felt like we were friends and had something in common. We both liked to write...

There's so much benefit from written communication, and people love to read a great story. In the publishing world, there's a lot of drama going on about ebooks and the iPad, but I think bookmakers are quite safe. There's something about reading what another person's written that makes you feel like you know them.

I've heard discussions that Facebook, email, Twitter and other forms of electronic communication put virtual walls between people and distance them from real life. But I think for those of us who love to read and love written communication, these tools are invaluable in maintaining relationships.

Many of you reading this I've known for years, and now we're separated by hundreds of miles--some even oceans--but wouldn't you say we're just as close? Possibly we know each other a little better now because at times it's easier to express yourself in writing than in speech.

I recently engaged in some email communications with a potential coworker. I never met her in person, and as it turned out, we're not going to be working together. But how odd it was to feel like we knew each other after only seven emails. And how strange it was to say goodbye and feel a little sad.

I feel like I've wandered off topic. Sorry. Update on Debut Novel coming soon... Target date: Monday.


Ex-pat Odessa said...

Dude, did you just summarize your Thesis on your blog???

LTM said...

umm... nope. just thinkin. why? ;p

JRichard said...

I have found that under the right circumstances (up to and including this here endeavor), Facebook, et al. not only DON'T put up walls btw. folks, but accommodate the precise concern you articulate in this post. What I mean is, for example, I am unlikely to ever be a syndicated columnist; but commenting on and occasionally engaging in ongoing repartee with FB friends relating to links and posts has frequently brought out my latent op-ed urge. I dunno, probably nobody pays any attention, but Nashville Dave and I now communicate in a mediated manner in which neither of us would be likely to do if we were just sitting down and talking.

Further, re. written communications v. actually having a personal relationship, that has for many, many years been a point of reflection (Eloise and Abelard; The Red and the Black) for. . . well, for writers. You are writing in a well-traveled mileu. Buena suerte, beeeeeeeee. . .

Ex-pat Odessa said...

Didn't you write your thesis on something similar to this??? Not complaining, the blog is great, I had a pen pal in china, I got through my french class, i know right?!? We corresponded for a while, till dad and Bobie had me send her a bible, she wrote me back and said don't send me stuff like that, I got in trouble. I didn't hear from her again after that!

LTM said...

@JRM, ... huh? ;o) just kidding. I'm hearing Fred Willard say "That's right!"
@OBT, actually, master's thesis was about comprehension and recall of Internet news. My buddy Jon Varo helped me create a fake CNN website, and we had videos, etc., and we tested readers' recall of the printed stories and then of the video stories. It was pretty interesting. Won a little award. I KNOW! NERD!!! :D