Curse of the Cards


Most of my friends know that I write. This is great when say that I’m writing over the weekend because they don’t question it. But it’s also a curse because I hate, HATE sending cards and signing guest books at weddings.

I always feel a huge pressure to write something moving or witty or memorable. But in the moment, I freeze and can’t think of anything. When I do come up with something it’s usually overwrought or incredibly stilted. Bleck.

The simple answer would be to come up with something beforehand, but I never do. I have no real explanation other than I’m acting like an ostrich at the first sign of trouble.

Anyone else have this problem? Or maybe you LOVE stretching your writing muscles on card? If so, I envy you!

13 thoughts on “Curse of the Cards

  1. Jackie

    The same thing happens to me! I always write something cliched… it’s harder to write unique cards than people think.

  2. Hmmm…

    I can see why you would feel that kind of pressure to write something “good”, but honestly… speaking as someone who has been a friend of yours for numerous years… I don’t worry about whether or not you write anything “good”. I mean, if I get a card (or a facebook comment, or whatever) from you I’m not judging whether or not what you’ve written is up to a certain level of quality… I’m just glad to have heard from my friend. 🙂

  3. I haven’t had that problem exactly, but I can relate to it because I’ve felt that sort of pressure when it comes to drawing things. It’s annoying. I think the best we can do is to take a deep breath and remember that our friends don’t mean to put that pressure on us, and chances are that our expectations of ourselves are higher than theirs.

  4. bethfinke

    I used to have this problem when it came to signing books at booksignings, but hey, it’s a nice problem to have: it means my book got published! Nowadays I’m signing my children’s book more often than I’m signing my memoir, and I’ve learned from teachers and parents that the best thing to do is put the very same greeting on every book I sign, that way the kids can’t compare – and compete over—what I said to them in their books. So hey, maybe you should do the same thing when signing guest books and cards – come up with one wry witty thing to say and use it every time. This way your friends cant’ compare –and compete – over what The Empty Pen wrote in their cards and guests books.
    PS: Just Don’t use “Arf.” It’s already taken.

    • bethfinke

      And oops, I meant “guest books.” Forget about the curse of the cards, worry more about the curse of spellcheck.
      Or is that Spell Check?

    • I’m no where near book signing yet, but I have a totally different fear…related to your second comment, actually. I know that if I personalize anything I’m going to sign everyone’s name incorrectly!

  5. I had not thought about this. Maybe it is because whatever you write on a card is so short compared to the novel I am working on, but I don’t think being good at one should require you to be good at the other. I am no good at writing in cards either. I disguise my inability to think of something tiny and witty by writing it in a foreign language, then it becomes neat, even if it is cliche.

    My advice is to learn how to say happy birthday in Chinese and congratulations in Hebrew. That covers most things I think.

  6. Thank yous. Those get me because generally I am doing several at once, and feel very formulaic as I write them. (truth be told, I am somewhat formulaic – Thank you for X for Y event. I (admire/enjoy verb) (gift/author/product family) very much, and am looking forward to (using said gift in an appropriate manner). Over the past year, (b/c this is a Christmas or birthday gift, and you are family I haven’t seen for a while) I have done A, B, and C, which was (hilarious, enlightening, sad). (Husband) is doing well; (event at work) has recently happened and he is (thrilled, interested, etc).
    Thanks again for X. It was great to hear from you, and I look forward to (using said gift) often in the future.

    Now you know my secret. And I feel bad because it is a formula, but then I remember that I’m the only one who is reading all of the thank yous. The recipients will only read theirs, and appreciate it. It may be a formula, but that doesn’t mean that the meaning behind it is not heartfelt.

    • Of course I know your secret…I learned it from Mom!

      I used to try and change up my thank yous, too, but ug…since no one ever sees them but me I decided formula was a good thing. And you’re right, it doesn’t mean that the sentiment isn’t heartfelt.

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