Much of what I wrote then would have been standard teenage diary stuff, about how terrible my life was and how brilliant the Smiths were; but over time, much more of what I wrote became about storytelling. Through these letters, I was learning about the small corners of the world my friends inhabited: in towns in Dorset and Devon, in south Wales, in north London, in the West Midlands, in Kent.
I kept writing letters throughout my time at university. But, of course, email crept gradually into my life, initially as a sort of proto-text-messaging, for occasions when quick and simple communication was required. And there was a long period of overlap where I would email someone to let them know I was writing a letter and would soon be posting it. But at some point the balance tilted, and letter-writing became something that happened by choice rather than by default; something a little self-conscious or mannered, something that started to feel like a duty or a task, and so was never quite done; until I moved house a few years later and realised there was no one I needed to tell.
My letter-writing days were over. You can always tell that a cultural form is dying when people start making a point of celebrating it. See also: typewriters, Polaroid photographs, vinyl records. The letters that started arriving in Nottingham were, on the whole, addressing themselves to this idea of the loss of letter-writing. They were often remarkably self-conscious about the process of sitting down to write.
There were many apologies for poor handwriting, and sometimes these were justified. There were references, towards the end of letters, to aching hands. There was some confusion about the cost of stamps. And there was a lot of talk about the letters people had written in the past — about penpals, and relationships maintained across distances, about letters written from the army or from prison or from school — and a lot of talk about when exactly the habit had fallen away.
The Irish novelist Colum McCann wrote fondly to us of his own letter-writing history, and of the letters he has received. I have told him that I will wait until he is gone. And he tells me that in that crate, those letters, he will never be gone.
This was quite a theme in many of the letters we received; just how disorderly a handwritten text can be, compared with the linearity of a document on a screen. There were crossings out and rewritings, marginalia, diagrams and doodles, cover notes and Post-it notes and extra scraps tucked into the envelopes. There were pressed flowers, and bookmarks, and even a lock of hair. At least two letters arrived stuffed into plastic bottles, the stamps held on with sellotape and hope.
Selma Dabbagh wrote us an abandoned love letter , retrieved from a hotel waste basket and sent as a scrumpled ball. Ruth Gilligan wrote a letter to God , folded into a tightly wedged note as though ready to be pushed into a crack in the Western Wall. Some of the letters were scented, and not always deliberately. Some were torn, and stained, and all of them bore the traces of the journey they had made from the place where they were written. They were physical objects, with all the tactility and uniqueness and marks of time which that implies, and it became more apparent than ever that these marks of time are what distinguish letters from emails and other forms of digital correspondence.
The wonderful thing about email is its immediacy. A conversation can be had — a decision made, a plan refined — in a matter of minutes, no matter where in the world the two parties happen to be. A letter, by contrast, always arrives from the past. There is a waiting — a forced patience — built into the mechanics. You wait for a letter to arrive. You wait for a reply. In the time it takes for the letter to reach its destination, anything can happen: minds be changed, lives lost, loves discovered.
This sense of duration was also borne out by how many of the letters we read wanted to give a sense of where they were, in both space and time: I am sitting at the kitchen table; I am in the garden, under the apple tree; I can hear the children in the bath upstairs and will soon have to fetch them.
But these differences between letters and emails are just that: differences. One is not better or worse than the other. In many ways, the differences hold in microcosm the wider cultural shift away from reading in print to reading on screen. For some people, there will always be something more transient about the latter. There is an astonishing wealth of information on the devices we carry around with us — a wealth that should be celebrated — but it can be difficult to concentrate on one piece of information at a time; to read a single article or book with the kind of deep, measured concentration that seems to come more naturally with print.
A printed book stays on your shelf, and can be bookmarked, annotated, flicked through, shared. I know, I know: these things are all possible with digital devices, and they may come naturally to some people. This might just be me. As you make writing a habit, instill the practice in your children as well to keep this old-fashioned art alive. Have you read a book that you know they would like especially? Is there a memory you shared with them that you want to mention?
Here is a touching article about how letter writing can be a ministry. Here are the other posts in this series:. Recovering the Lost Art of Dressing Up. Recovering the Lost Art of Porch Sitting. Recovering the Lost Art of Cooking from Scratch. Recovering the Lost Art of Taking a Bath. Recovering the Lost Art of Analog Living. Recovering the Lost Art of Solitude. My parents had friends in Germany, and they made it a practice to send a postcard to these friends every time they took a trip.
My dad kept their address and some postage stamps in his wallet at all times so he could write to them. That was how they stayed connected. I think the German couple did the same and sent my parents a postcard when they traveled. I write lots of cards and letters. David McCullough, historian and writer, says that only those who write will be remembered. Yes, I like to save old calendars and wrapping paper and cut out bits to embellish cards.
I keep any special letters I receive in a wooden keepsake box, and I love reading back over the memories—especially the mail I received from my husband before we were married. I love to read about this subject because I am a letter-writer and card-sender from way back!
Now that we have experienced the quarantine I have been writing to older single people in my community as I assume they are feeling isolated and alone. Some extras in the letters include cartoons, jokes, poems, scripture, book suggestions or a wonderful Blog I want to share.
Thanks for this post. I hope more people take up this activity. So good to hear that people like you are still enjoying this lovely practice! What a wonderful idea to bless people in your community that way! After each of my grandmas passed away, I craved reading the letters that they sent to me as child. Handwriting is so much more personal than a screen. During the quarantine my kids had fun sending and receiving letters with family members.
I agree! When I was decluttering my home awhile back, the personalized, handwritten notes were the ones I saved. It was fun to rediscover cards from grandparents and aunts and read the messages written just for me. This was very inspiring. That quote you shared by Elizabeth Gaskell does sound shockingly similar to the way things are today. Thank you! I wish I could hear Ms. Your email address will not be published. Pin Share 6. Do you still write letters and cards?
What do you do to make them pretty and personalized?
After reading the articles, it is evident that cursive writing should still be teached in school settings. Cursive writing can allow students. The skill set of reading and writing never stops developing, as well it is not an easy ability for every one to learn. Thinking back on how you learnt how to read, there is not one moment or practice that comes to mind, but rather collection of moments and years that lead into someone being able to read.
Where writing is a skill that starts with a simple building block of writing letters eventually turns into words, and then sentences. I believe reading and writing go hand in hand, as the more you. The letters that the people suffering from the Great Depression wrote to the president and first lady were very real and personal. They told of the hardships they were going through and most asked for some sort of help or aid.
As many know and believe cursive writing evolved from the calligraphic hand! Cursive has gone back many generations. Cursive is believed to be the fastest way to write. It also is needed in many different ways, such as writing essays and signing your signature on contracts.
I used to love writing, and I even wanted to be a novelist when I was younger, but somewhere down the road I decided that was too unrealistic and put the pen down. Picking it up again a short while ago felt natural, and it almost felt as if those years between never happened. As I was writing I found myself understanding what I was feeling.
It was once a vital element of American education, but is now becoming an archaic artefact as technology advanced and the requirement of more regulated tests push it out of the education system. For many students in America, cursive writing is as. To begin with, Bill Fox explained that one day he went to an art studio, saw a crazy piece of an atomic bomb blowing up, that was a visual cautionary tale of nuclear power -- he wrote a catalog essay, which led to an artist in Reno asking for one as well.
In the past week, how many texts, emails, or instant messages have you received? Now, think about how many handwritten letters have you received? And by handwritten letters, I mean a letter complete with a stamp and envelope, sent via post office. None at all? According to an annual survey conducted by the U.
There is very real conflict between the values of the police and of the bohemian marijuana smoker. For whereas the policeman values upright masculi Tia Hyman Exercise 1. This letter does not seem to be very effective. The approach was very unprofessional. I assume the needs of the reader w Art and cultural property crime — which includes theft Discover great essay examples and research papers for your assignments. Our library contains thousands of carefully selected free research papers and essays.
No matter the topic you're researching, chances are we have it covered. Sign Up. Sign In. Sign Up Sign In. With all the forms of modern communication we have now, text, email, Skype, Facebook, and so many others, the one that involves the most effort is the least popular, and what a pity.
I, for one, think the art of letter-writing deserves a place in modern life. Someone took the time to sit down and write on a page what they wanted to say to you as opposed to a quick succession of key pad tapping on a keyboard or phone.