The Lost Art of Letters
We may give a collective shiver when examining stunning stationary, but how many folks actually bust out a full-length, let-me-spill-my-heart-onto-the-page letter anymore? Me, that’s who. Like the epistolary novel, the art of letter writing has fallen out of fashion…but I’m all for bringing it back. In our technology focused society, we’d rather send a text, a tweet, an email, even an Instagram direct message before pulling out pen and paper. We crave the immediate. Still, I think there’s something to be gained from embracing the joys of delayed gratification. There’s a certain charm to receiving a heart to heart a few days later, don’t you think?
I write letters regularly. Weirdly enough, some of my friendships are conducted solely through the mail and the occasional visit. For one thing, writing a letter far more personal than an email. It’s a tangible memento of a day in the life. With an entire blank page to fill, I feel able to expand on my thoughts and feelings. There’s always more to be said than a pithy, one-liner status update. In a letter, you can really hash out what’s on your mind without the pressure of social media. No one else is reading this letter. It’s between you and your reader—not your friend and the guy you met at the art opening, your ex, and all of your classmates from university.
Any way you slice it, letters are undeniably more personal and, frankly, more interesting than an email.From the feel of the paper, color of the ink, to your penmanship, you have far more choice in the experience you want to give your reader. For whatever reason, one friend in Los Angeles mainly receives more Marilyn Monroe postcards than anything else! I like to think of it as creating a time capsule in an envelope.
I’ve always had a penchant for paper, and rather than continue to stock up on a never-ending supply of journals, I know I’ll use fancy stationary. Embrace regular correspondence, and receive an endless excuse to buy all the cards you want. I shamelessly use my letter writing habit as an a-okay to splurge on postcards from museum exhibitions or splash out on the fancy letterpress notecards that catch my eye. If I’m feeling really fancy, I’ll bust out the sealing wax to give the letter a little something special.
Living halfway across the world from so many of my friends, finding time to schedule a call or a Skype can be next to impossible. I find it so unnatural to sit in front of a screen, and the spotty internet connection doesn’t help! Sending letters instead can be a way of showing them my world, and let them know that they’re still on my mind, even if we can’t catch up in person.
The biggest bummer? Limited replies. For the amount of letters I send, only a few are answered. It’s true that sitting down to pen a long-form missive to a friend takes time, let alone sourcing an international stamp! I used to find this disheartening, but why count replies when the act of writing and sending letters fills me with such unrestrained joy? It might feel strange at first, but there’s something so special about sharing tangible updates in a digital world. Give it a whirl!