The Trouble with Greetings Cards

  Today I have written hundreds of words, and have a slight headache for my troubles.  Sadly, all of my writing was in the form of Christmas cards...

It's that lovely time of year again, and I'm not being entirely sarcastic by that remark.  I actually love Christmas and the surrounding holiday.  The weeks adding up to it, however, I hate very much.  It's not the constant play of festive music (I like that) or the way the shops get trimmed up (I love that, but I do object to some stores doing it so early).  It's the sudden mass of people who just seem to appear within every shop, shopping centre and high street that you choose to visit!  I'm not a very people person, and I get uncomfortable in large groups of people, so I try and get things like Christmas cards at silly times like September and take full advantage of late-night shopping days.  Online shopping helps a little, but I'm wary even of my favourite shopping sites (Play, Amazon and Discworld at this time of year.  A lot can be said for going to the shop and holding the product before you pay for it.

This year, I have somehow gotten a little behind when buying my cards, but countered that by getting them written good and early!  As I pointed out I have a slight headache, and my knees (which I suspect are becoming arthritic) think that I hate them after sitting on the floor for hours.  Despite this discomfort and frustration, I was reminded of a little comment on a previous blog on the subject of greetings cards that I completely forgot neglected to write about.

When I was younger, and had no idea what I wanted to do in life except write, I liked to create personal greetings cards on the PC (thanks to Printmaster Gold) and write my own personalised messages inside.  I was quite fond of basic poetry, and turned out to be rather good at it.  I wrote several verses, receiving plenty of praise from family members as I did so.  But my most memorable was the verse I wrote when I was seventeen.

There is a limit to the number of titles that a greetings card company can produce before the process becomes a) unprofitable, and b) stupid.  Therefore there is no card shop in the world that will stock "To my Parents on their First Wedding Anniversary" on their shelves, and I doubt sites like Moon Pig or Funky Pidgeon could fare much better.*

As you may have guessed, it was my mother and step-father's first wedding anniversary.  Knowing that there was no way on earth we would find what we needed in the shops, my brother (age 12) and I (age 17) decided to call on the ever-reliant Printmaster Gold to mark the occasion.  What we would have done without that PC program I can't imagine!

Not really satisfied with a cutesy card and simple message, I decided to write a poem.  It took me several hours to compose and get to the standard I wanted, and also turned out to be somewhat longer than I expected.  It turned out to be the kind of card that I now fondly refer to as a "reader" - I like to buy and receive reader cards!

On the happy day of the anniversary, I presented my Mum and Dad with their card.  Mum, who was in a happy and emotional state at the time, cried whilst reading it, and my Dad beamed and gave me a lot of praise!  Personally I was also very proud of the card myself, but that was just me.

My parents had an anniversary holiday in the lake district where they had spent their honeymoon, and put their cards up in the hotel room.  The owner of the hotel had the chance to read their cards, and made the suggestion that I try and write card verses professionally.  Now, I had heard this idea before from my dad and various other relatives, but they were relatives and somewhat biased.  But the hotel owner has never met me, and knew nothing of me other than the poem I had written.  I doubt I could find a more unbiased opinion without approaching somebody from the industry!

There was once little problem: I was 17, studying for my A-Levels and hoping for a place at University, and with no clue about how to approach this industry.  I was too nervous to find the addresses of greetings card companies and simply send the verses to them, and even if I did I didn't know if that was the right way to go.  So the idea was shelved, and as time went by was completely forgotten.

Ironically, in that time I managed to get a job at what is now one of the biggest greetings card companies in the UK (which I might add has nothing to do with my input!).  At the time of my first interview, I remembered the idea of writing greetings card verses, but my interviewer was not sure how I would go about submitting my verses.  Again, the poor little idea was forgotten....

Until December 5th.  I was late to the bus station and missed my early bus, so found myself wandering to the WH Smiths and picked up this month's copy of Writers Forum.  That magazine appears to have become the Printmaster Gold of my adult life!  As I glossed over the cover, the words "Greeting Card Writer" caught my eye.  The idea that I had shelved for years finally fell and hit me on the head!

Having worked in the industry for coming on to four years, I have a vague idea about who in the company to approach, but I am in two minds about what to do.

I want to write at least one novel, and if all my dreams came true to gain the prestige and respect of my idol - Sir Terry Pratchett, but I'd like to try sending some verses just to prove that I could do it!  On the downside, my step-dad passed away five years ago, and the last poem I wrote was for his funeral.  I haven't written any poetry in over five years - I'm not even sure if I can do it any more.  And would I be able to write these verses again without the love that I felt for the person I was writing for?

I really don't know - any advice, encouragement or indeed discouragement would be welcomed and appreciated.  Would it hurt to get a little critique on how I write?  I'm stuck!


  1. I really think you should go for the card writing. It seems to be your calling! To end up working in a cardmaking place after writing cards without actually having any input into it, to me that feels like a sign. Write up some practice entries, show them to friends, see what they think. Don't lose that heartfelt touch! That's what inspired you to write the anniversary card in the first place.

    But, whatever you do, I wish you luck!

  2. If not now then when? Better to try and not succeed than never to have tried at all. Give it a go and good luck!

  3. Thank you both for your supportive input. I've just received the wonderful news that a colleague has just had her baby girl - maybe I'll send her a little card with a poem in it and see what happens! x


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