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Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Handwritten Letters - Have They Drifted From Our Lives?

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In the company of a friend, I noticed she was busy scribbling words down onto paper, nothing unusual with that, except she is not a writer. So I asked her what she was doing? 'I'm writing a letter to my daughter,' she said. Taken aback, I replied, 'don't you text, or send emails?' 'Oh yes,' she replied, 'but at Christmas, when she was home from University, she mentioned, she had never received a letter, so I thought I'd surprise her.' I immediately remembered how special it had been to receive a handwritten letter, and the joy it had brought me.

Our conversation turned to how as girls, we'd written to pen pals in far away lands, and my friend confided how she had written to her parents weekly whilst overseas training to be a nurse, and of the joy and pleasure it gave them, to be able to read her letters to family members. Their letters kept her going, reminding her of family and home. Her mother wrote about what was going on in the village, who was doing what, and how well the vegetable patch was doing, or what she was baking that day. My friend's mother passed away some years ago, and she treasures those letters today.

To my shame, I couldn't remember the last time I'd sent a handwritten letter, cards and notes yes, but not a letter. I'm guessing I'm typical of a lot of people and this makes me sad. Have we lost our love of letter writing? Or is there a chance we can spark a revival? Can you still buy quality writing paper and fountain pens? Who can remember using one? And the distinctive smell of the ink?

Letters are so personal, when written in your own hand, on paper you've chosen, you are revealing something of yourself to the recipient. Its rewarding to receive a letter in the post, there is something intimate about it, and you can keep letters forever, cherishing and re-discovering them in the years to come, re-living the memories held within them. I can't imagine that happening with an email, or a text messages, can you?

If you've ever received a handwritten letter you'll know the pleasure it brings. If not then you're yet to receive that pleasure. Why not write a letter to someone today? It will bring enormous joy and surprise to them, and a sense of satisfaction to you when you put it in the post box, but don't forget to put a stamp on it.

16 comments:

  1. I couldn't tell you the last time I wrote a letter myself but I know I've never enjoyed it (especially those dreaded thank you letters as a child) and I doubt I would now - no one would be able to read it anyway!

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    1. Ahh, Wendy I know what you mean about unreadable handwriting, but at least we used to try back then and no one judged us if our writing wasn't neat and tidy. Nowadays, with text certainly, shortened words horrify me! I'd rather struggle to read a badly scrawled letter. Don't underestimate yourself. You'll be better than you think you are.

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  2. I write letters to a friend for years and occasionally write to older relatives as well. A letter can be re-read and is less tiring than a phone call, for some of them. I've introduced my daughter to the joy of letter writing and she and I are so happy sending off or receiving one to friends that live further away and are seen in person less often. Social media and email shall never compete with a handwritten letter. We gain a lot (reduced storage space, immediate sharing, higher quality production) from modern technology though there is still something to be said of the tangible experience of a letter, print book or record. Great post! Happy penning :)

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    1. Thank you Lou, it warms my heart to think of you and your daughter writing letters to friends and family.

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  3. I love writing people, and as a challenge one time, I wrote most of my family, and quite a few friends. I received quite a few phone calls, an email or two, but, only one letter. I heard how wonderful it was to receive a letter in every reply, but ironically, little back. I do write to my Grandmother fairly regularly, and to a pen pal or two, so I do "keep my hand in" so to speak. I try to encourage people to write to me, and I try writing to them, but so far, I don't seem to have to magic touch for continuing correspondence. Oh, well, I will keep trying...

    Cat

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    1. Good on you Cat for taking on that challenge, and from the response you had it looks like people were made up when they got your correspondence. A shame they didn't feel they could write back to you though...

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  4. I enjoyed reading your post, Maria and yes, it does seem a shame that we don't write letters as much as we once did. I doubt though if any of my friends and family mind emails and text messages from me instead of hand written letters given they could never read anything I wrote anyway.

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    1. Hi Rena, I know what you mean, but I think its habit, I honestly believe that in years to come letter writing will be like keeping hens, knitting, sewing and going out for tea in China cups and home baked cake is now. Highly sought after after! We love nostalgia don't we? :-)
      Thank you for dropping in, nice to see you here.

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  5. I do like hand written letters, Maria, although it's a while since I've written more than a card - and I still prefer to send thank you cards rather than email. But I might well start writing letters again, when appropriate.

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    1. I like thank you cards too. I'm deciding who I can write to, and I'll need to purchase some paper! Does that mean I'll be in a shop that sells notebooks? That'll feed my addiction then... :-)

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  6. There are a few occasions where digital media won't suffice but I do wonder if anyone can read my handwriting these days.

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    1. Yes I agree, like condolences, very hard to do on an email.

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  7. I had several penfriends when I was at school and I'd write on every scrap of the page, including up and down the margin so it must have been a nightmare to read! It's a joy nowadays to discover an old handwritten letter from years ago and sense something of the person. It would be good to pick up the habit again, not least so our handwriting doesn't deteriorate to the point of being illegible (I'm sure mine's going that way) and I'm pretty certain our emails won't survive in the same way as the written word!

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    1. Wendy, I used to write up and down the margins as well! Whatever did we find to say? Sadly, I can't find any of the letters I received. :-( I hope you do have a go at letter writing again.

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  8. I still write letters, but its usually at Christmas to catch up. Nowhere near enough and one of the casualties of 'progress'. Diaries and letters are an endless source of fascination for me because of the way that the reader can be taken into the world and mind of the writer. The smell and texture of the paper, the ink and formation of letters and the power of their written word. A part of history that is disappearing with the digital age.

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    1. I'm proud of you Keith! Well done on keeping the ink flowing...

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