Friday, June 18, 2010

Profile: Samara O'Shea --

Samara O’Shea is the author of the blog Letter Lover, as well as two books, For the Love of Letters: A 21st-Century Guide to the Art of Letter Writing and Note to Self: On Keeping a Journal and Other Dangerous Pursuits.

She lives just outside Philadelphia in a home she shares with her sister. She graduated from Duquesne University and has worked at Pittsburgh magazine, All You, and Country Living. The 30-year old says hers is the typical all-American family of four. In addition to Samara and her sister, the family includes their parents, who have been married for 30 years.

Samara was so kind as to answer all of my questions for this first Profile feature on 365Letters. More Profiles will follow each week. If you have an idea for a Profile subject, please let me know!
Now, on to Samara’s answers:

1.  Why do you write letters?
I started writing letters because it was the age just before texting and e-mail, and that’s what we did. We passed notes in class, and I hand-wrote letters to the boy I met at summer camp. As time went on and technology progressed, I realized that people still appreciate letters like no other medium. I also thoroughly enjoy sitting down to write a letter. It’s a great escape from all the noise spouting from the computer and the TV. 

2. Which is more exciting for you (and tell us why -- elaborate) -- finding a letter in your mailbox or dropping a letter into a mailbox?
At one point in my life, I was more excited to receive letters, and now I’d rather send them. I imagine this changed in the same way that I once preferred receiving gifts and now I enjoy giving them more. I’m sure it has to do with the fact that I love surprising people, and a letter is a sweet little surprise.

3. Who do you write to? Why?
I write friends, family, and complete strangers. Some people I write because they write me and say they’ve come across my Web site or read my book. I write friends to say hello. I write family—usually to say thank for a gift or throwing a get-together. There is no rhyme or reason really. I do it when the mood strikes and when a certain person is on my mind.

4. Do you write to people who never write back? Why or why not?
I do. My friend Blake, for example, I write him often and he always replies with a text message. “Got your letter. Loved it!” I don’t mind that he doesn’t respond with a letter He’s good to me in many other ways. I understand that letter writing isn’t his thing. It’s my thing.  

5. Do you use fancy stationery or plain notebook paper? Why?
I wouldn’t call it fancy or plain. The paper I use is light-blue letter-writing paper from Papyrus. It’s clearly meant for writing letters, but it’s not too ornate. I use it because it’s a little old-fashioned looking, and I want the person I’m writing to receive something out of the ordinary. If I’m not writing on that paper, then I’m usually writing on a thank you note. Stacks of thank you notes from stationery stores or Target are my weakness. I have to stop myself from buying them all.

6. Do you e-mail, text, etc., too? If so, what determines who gets an e-mail and who gets a letter?
Yes, I e-mail, text, Tweet, and update my status on Facebook. It’s the message that determines if I send an e-mail or write a letter. If it’s something quick or urgent, then I’ll go with the faster means of communication. If it’s a message that has no time constraints, I’ll send a letter.

7. Do you always handwrite letters? Or, do you ever type them on a typewriter or print them out from a computer?
If it’s a long letter then I’ll type it. I type for spell check’s sake as well as being able to make changes more easily. I never use a typewriter, but I do love the sound they make. It’s the sound of work getting done. 

8. Tell us about your blog/website.
In April 2005, I launched as a letter-writing service—meaning I write letters on behalf of others. I had had the idea for two years prior, and I finally got it together and launched the site. Since then, the site has changed a bit. I use it as a place to promote my books and other projects, but the letter-writing service stills stands. I’ve been playing Cyrano de Bergerac for five years now, and I still get a kick out of it. I’m in the process of expanding my letter-writing service to include helping people write wedding vows. 

9. Why should people write more letters?
Because more communication isn’t always better communication. We get lazy with the things we say because we have so many ways to send messages. A text that says, “Luv you,” does not have the impact that a well-thought-out love letter does. A letter requires the writer to stop and really think about what he or she is saying, and a letter is now and always will be a gift for the reader.

10. What is your favorite letter?
I have two. The first is a letter I received from a boy after a week-long romance at summer camp. You can read if you’d like: The second was written by Mark Twain to his wife Livy on her 30th birthday. It’s precious! Read here:


Megan said...

hello friend.
what a beautiful and inspirational post!
i must look into her books, she seems like a lovely person and classy to boot!
i enjoyed reading her two favorite letters, they were breathtakingly sweet and heartbreakingly romantic.
i look forward to what the future brings in the profile feature category.
hope you have a sparkling weekend,

phonelady said...

I like her alot she sounds like an interesting person . she is one of those people that if you met her you would become instant friends . Those are my type of people . LOL !!!

Joe and Jackie Flaherty said...

This is a great idea. I enjoyed reading this and look forward to reading others. Thanks for thinking of it!


Samara said...

Thank you for having me Carla! I look forward to meeting fellow letters writers each week.

Keep up the great work,

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