Thursday, January 17, 2019

Frequently Asked Questions

The Victorian Letter Writers Guild has been more of a success than I could have dreamed when I started it back in 2017---I'm so thankful for all our fantastic members and all the fun we've had keeping the art of old fashioned letter writing alive. I thought it was time I did an FAQ post to answer some of the more common questions I've received from interested members. If you have a question, please post it in the comments below or email me and I will get back to you shortly.

Write to me!

Mrs. Sarah Coller
P.O. Box 3155
Bella Vista, AR 72715


Frequently Asked Questions (updated September 2023)

Why do you do this? (Host free pen friend exchanges, advocate for old fashioned letter writing, keep a postal history blog, etc.)

When I was a little girl, my Grammy Annabelle sent me a postcard every week of my life. They were simple little notes to tell me about what was going on at her house but they taught me the joy of receiving mail and soon we were exchanging full letters. In school, I was always in trouble for passing notes in class and was often horrified when my note would be confiscated and read aloud. I found it easy to express myself in writing and was humiliated more than once due to allowing my heart flow out of my pen. My generation is the last to have experienced life without the internet and I see how so many of life's simplicities have been lost along with it. I'm determined to share this joy of the written word, the sacrifice and peacefulness of taking the time to compose something for someone else, with anyone who is interested. Maybe someday we will be a completely digital society---but that time hasn't come yet and I'm committed to making sure it doesn't come round for a very long time!

Who are you?

I'm a 43 year old housewife residing in the US southern state of Arkansas. I have nine children and have been married since 1998. I began my blogging "career" in 2008, marketing national and international brands as a social influencer on my blog and social media. That blog is now archived, but I do maintain a literature blog called Belle's Library and a ministry channel on YouTube called Torah Led Women. I am no longer a career blogger and now do it purely for enjoyment and fellowship with like-minded enthusiasts.

Is my information secure?

As best as I can in my capacity as a human being, I do my best to make sure your information is secure. Any information you give me is stored on my computer and in file boxes in my home library. I only share it with Guild members during exchanges. I will never share or sell your information with third parties, nor will I use it for purposes outside of Guild activities. 

Your signups are closed. Can I still join?

If you've come to the blog and found that the most recent exchange is closed, do not despair! Just follow the Membership Application link at the top of the page to submit your application. If approved, I will add you to my mailing list and send you a confirmation email.

What is the cost to join the Victorian Letter Writers Guild? Can I make a donation?

Membership in the Guild is $10 USD per year. Some have suggested I accept donations---if you'd like to send a donation, you can use the same payment methods listed in your welcome email. But really, if you want to thank me, write me a letter! I also accept chocolate by the trunk full and all forms of bound books and paper ephemera gifts. Another way you can contribute to the Guild is by sharing it with your friends via social media, email, or postal mail. 

What if I don't like my pen friend?

While I do my best to match you with a like-minded pen friend, it's inevitable that you will not be paired well from time to time. Participation in any letter writing exchange through The Victorian Letter Writing Guild requires only one thing: write your assigned pen friend one letter. If you receive your pen friend's letter and find that she is not a suitable match for you, simply stop writing to her. There are no obligations past the initial introductory letter. If you still want a pen friend before the next round comes up, let me know. I often have members asking for more than one match at a time---or I may even write to you myself! I would encourage everyone to give their partners a chance, though. You never know what great friendships could be born out of a little patience and grace for those who are different from you.

What are your priorities for matching pen friends?

I always do my best to match you based on several factors: age, region, and interests. In this vein, I always focus first on age and interests, as these distinctions are cross-cultural and seem to be the keys to finding a long-lasting pen friend. For those with specific region requests, I always give priority to the longer-standing members first. Be assured, though, that I keep very good records and I'm usually good about giving everyone who wants one a turn to have an international pen friend. Please keep in mind that the group currently has over 700 members---at least 65% of whom are American and at least 40% of whom request a specific, non-American country. In addition, pandemics and wars close borders and delay or suspend mail between countries, so I must take that into consideration when matching people. The best way for our group to grow internationally is for all of us to share it with our international friends on social media. I give you the option to be specific about your partner preferences in your application and you are always welcome to update those preferences by emailing me. I take your wishes in this area as my highest priority.

Can I have more than one pen friend through the Guild?

Yes. Many members have been with me long enough to have several pen friends at the same time. Just because an exchange season has passed, this doesn't mean you have to stop corresponding. She who finds a virtuous pen friend finds a good thing, so keep writing if you're so inclined! If you would like to be assigned more than one pen friend per round, let me know when you send in your application/confirmation. If you are a member in good standing and have participated in several successful exchanges with the Guild, I will consider assigning you more than one pen friend.

What if my assigned pen friend doesn't write to me?

First step is: send your letter anyway. After that, you should attempt to contact your pen friend by email a couple times. If this proves fruitless, please do let me know. While I don't want anyone to feel like a "tattle tale", this greatly helps me keep the Guild a safe and fun thing that everyone can enjoy.

Is this a "women only" organization? Do you discriminate? 

Anyone is welcome to enjoy the site, but all exchanges are strictly for women only. There are several other international sites offering mixed gender exchanges. If you need help finding some, check my sidebar. Once a member is approved, I do not discriminate against anything except unkindness. We have members from many walks of faith, many lifestyles, many cultures. All approved members are welcome who would be kind, patient, and willing to extend grace to another in hopes of forming friendships. I have and will continue to ban members who are unkind, rude, dishonest, or demanding of myself or other members.

Does my letter have to be Victorian themed/decorated/written with a fountain or quill/worded with flowery 19th century language?

No. The classification of "Victorian" is used in reference to the "old fashioned" art of letter writing---not so much to the style of letters or art work employed. Of course, many who join the exchanges enjoy this aesthetic, as well, but using it is not mandatory. Please don't be intimidated by believing you must be a fantastic artist or eloquent speaker to participate in our exchanges. We are average women with average lives who share a love for simplicity and beauty. If you can relate, you belong here!

How do I get a pen friend?

Visit the Membership Application link above to get your name on the list for the next round of pen friend matches!

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