I’ve decided on the way to determine whether I’ve made it. Rather than using a sliding scale for accomplishments, to which I can apply scientific calculations of my sense of well-being, the success of completed works, the prosperity of love, etc., I’ve now decided that I can easily determine whether I’ve made it, or whether I haven’t, by looking at the mail.
If someone can send me a letter without a proper address, and if the postal carriers are still able to deliver it, then I’m in. It’s that simple. In the last day I’ve read two instances of this happening. The first was from humor-essayist Bill Bryson, who wrote in his collection, I’m a Stranger Here Myself, that he successfully received a letter addressed to “Mr. Bill Bryson, Author of ‘A Walk in the Woods’, Lives Somewhere in New Hampshire, America.” The letter only took five days to get to him. The second instance was in the latest issue of The New Yorker (I’ll try not to mention this magazine in every post). In the “Life and Letters” article on author Philip Pullman, the piece ends with him receiving a letter addressed to “Philip Pullman, The Storyteller, Oxford.” In both instances the writers are happy to see these letters end up in their mailboxes. On that note:
I wonder how many vaguely addressed letters to not-famous people will actually make it to someone (anyone)? I have half a desire to start sending letters to completely unknown people, just based on made-up vague descriptions. I’m guessing ten percent of the letters would find a home. And 50 percent of those would find replies.