Weekly Pick: The Art of Letter Writing

In these days of Twitter, texting and five-second Facebook comments, it seems as though there's also a bit of a backlash against "quick and dirty" digital correspondence. Many find that the humanity seems to be missing, and so on the bookstore shelves can now be found scores of books on hand-written notes, love letters, travelogues, greeting cards, and --above all-- honest-to-goodness pen-and-ink letter writing. There's a renaissance afoot.

So for this week's pick (actually our very first weekly pick) we'd like to highlight a thought-provoking article from The Art of Manliless by Brett and Kate McKay entitled The Art of Letter Writing, an overview of tools, expression, style and etiquette:

Man writing[...] But when it comes to sharing one’s true thoughts, sincere sympathies, ardent love, and deepest gratitude, words traveling along an invisible superhighway will never suffice. Why?

Because sending a letter is the next best thing to showing up personally at someone’s door. Ink from your pen touches the stationary, your fingers touch the paper, your saliva seals the envelope. Something tangible from your world travels through machines and hands, and deposits itself in another’s mailbox. Your letter is then carried inside as an invited guest. The paper that was sitting on your desk, now sits on another’s. The recipient handles the paper that you handled. Letters create a connection that modern, impersonal forms of communication will never approach.

Read more: The Art of Letter Writing

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I'd love to write more

I'd love to write more letters....unfortunately the few people I'd write letters to, I usually speak to on a regular basis and I'm not going to hold back what I'm up to so I can send them a letter a few days later!

I tend to be bad at writing letters, as I found out when on the pen-pal list of a fountain pen board I used to frequent...I could *write* the letters fine...but...somehow I'd never get around to actually *sending* them!!!

Picking back up... the art of letter writing

I take copious hand-written notes at work and at home on all manner of subjects but I have never been a great letter writer. Where are the stamps? Do I even have any stamps? I pay all my bills online and, until a few weeks ago, most of my communication was online, also. Then someone close to me went into a program similar to boot camp - phones had to be surrendered and snail mail was the only way to communicate. I felt completely panicked - adrift on the sea of electrons with no way to throw my anchor securely to shore. My only sure path - dig out the stamps and start writing.

I literally hadn't handwritten any sort of communication but an occasional thank you note (yes, I'm one of those) or a quick birthday card in years. What does one say on paper? It surprised me how much I struggled at first with writing what I wanted to say. I stared at the blank page, perhaps trying to locate the blinking cursor subconsciously. Maybe I thought it would look strange writing the trivial what-nots of life to be read by another human being - what could I possibly say that would interest this person? We had heard that news from the "outside" would be a very important part of keeping morale up so I decided I would just press on and write something - anything - and get that first letter out the door.

That was several weeks ago, and it is much easier. I have set aside part of my office for storing cards and stationery, stamps, clippings I want to send, etc. I sometimes send two cards or letters on the same day, even, when I think of something I should have said. As with most things, practice makes one more prepared, if not perfect.