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whatever happened to letter writing?

Several things came together for me to suddenly lament the lost art of the handwritten missive.

First was a trove of letters I pulled out of the back of a closet, most received in the early 90’s from friends, relatives and sometimes strangers whose work in media I found compelling enough to initiate a correspondence.

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Look at the letter on top. Nobody in my world still writes a page, let alone ten! It told of the pre-occupations of a friend living in Milan and figuring out the next step in his life. It was exciting to re-read yet sad to think I’ll probably never get another letter like that again. There’s no room in the Twitter’n’Text generation for atmospheric details and touching asides.

Next was a lovely book that we carry in our shop called the Missing Ink.

The Missing Ink by Philip Hensher

The Missing Ink by Philip Hensher

When Philip Hensher realized that he didn’t know what a close friend’s handwriting looked like (“bold or crabbed, sloping or upright, italic or rounded, elegant or slapdash”), he felt that something essential was missing from their friendship. It dawned on him that having abandoned pen and paper for keyboards, we have lost one of the ways by which we come to recognize and know another person. People have written by hand for thousands of years— how, Hensher wondered, have they learned this skill, and what part has it played in their lives?

The Missing Ink

The Missing Ink

Finally, there was a wonderful collection of thank you notes accompanied by a journal encouraging A Year of Gratitude, and steps to identifying people you are grateful for and reaching out to them via a note a week for a full year.

The Year of Gratitude thank you notes and journal

The Year of Gratitude thank you notes and journal

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