L – Letter Writing: It’s For Posterity

I’m an old soul. I’ve known that for years, but as technology advances, and we become more and more distanced as a global society, I find my old soul more and more obvious. One of the points that proves this to me: It breaks my heart that people don’t write letters anymore.

Sure, we email friends. We keep in touch via facebook and Twitter. We make important business connections through LinkedIn. We make new friends through online forums over shared interests. And that’s great and all.

But I miss letters. I miss them because of the beauty of them. There was an art to writing letters. One didn’t write a letter to a friend to share all the details of each day. One wrote a letter when something extraordinary had happened. The death of a loved one, or the celebration of new life, marriage, retirement even. One wrote a letter to share the thoughts of a challenging event, either in one’s personal life or the world around him/her. And these letters were truly writing. Writing the way we write our stories, and novels, and nonfiction. It was worth it to sit down and really get the words right because it was important to communicate as clearly and eloquently as possible what you were thinking. The fact is, the person on the other end couldn’t just retort a quick, “Huh?”, and allow you to clarify. The meaning had to be just right, and this was an art.

But there was a visual art to it, as well, in the penmanship. We have allowed penmanship to fall by the wayside, even in our elementary schools where we our teaching our children that writing is a thing you can do, but typing is what you must learn. I remember as a child devoting so much class time and homework time to handwriting – learning print, then cursive – and I worked hard on it. But after I had learned the “correct” way, I began to play with the forms of the letters, and this is where the artist takes over. I have now developed a truly unique penmanship that I rarely ever get to use. (It’s one of the reasons I generally write all my fiction by hand before transcribing it into the computer.)

So, maybe I should pose another challenge here. Write a letter. But not just one, many. Find someone with whom you can begin a correspondence. Why? Because of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Letters From A Birmingham Jail. Because of the abundance of information we know about famous writers, politicians, leaders, thinkers, movers, and shakers of history – most of which we discovered through their letters.



Filed under exercise, literacy education, writing

10 responses to “L – Letter Writing: It’s For Posterity

  1. I love this post–and I miss letters! I feel sorry for today’s generation who will never know the anticipation of sending a letter through the mail (especially a letter to a “special someone!”–wondering when it will be received–waiting for the reply–and then that flash of excitement when you see an envelope with that familiar handwriting in your mailbox. Email and texting is so immediate and I know there are advantages, but nothing matches the pure romance of real letters!

    • Jennifer Marshburn

      On the subject of that anticipation and excitement: I still remember the first handwritten letter that I received, when I was about 6 or 7. My family went to church when I was little, but being little, I didn’t much care for the sermons. My mother used to let me bring a pad of paper (or in a pinch, I would use the church program), and I would draw a picture that I would give to our minister as he greeted the congregation when we left. After several months of weekly proof that I wasn’t paying attention to a word he said, he sent me a handwritten letter on the church’s stationary thanking me for the drawings, and saying how much he appreciated them. My mother saved it in one of our photo albums, and whenever I look through that album, I reread it. Letter writing = memories! Thanks for reading!

  2. I don’t necessarily miss writing letters but there was a definite beauty to them that you don’t get from an email and definitely not from a text. Letters are definitely moving into history.

    • Jennifer Marshburn

      And with letter writing will go penmanship, stationary, and so many other fun, novelties. It just makes me so sad. Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts.

  3. This is a really cool idea, I think I will start writing letters again. I’m getting a fountain pen too!

    • Jennifer Marshburn

      Ahh! Fountain pens, calligraphy, Mont Blanc pens… How could I forget all the other pleasant nuances to letter writing! Thanks for the reminder, and good luck on your search for a good, quality pen!!! Happy letter writing!

  4. I miss letters, too. I recall writing them to everyone I knew. I might take you up on the challenge.
    Nana Prah

    • Jennifer Marshburn

      Oh, do take up the challenge! And feel free to let us know how it goes for you! Here’s hoping you the luck of strengthening or renewing old ties! Thanks for reading, and happy letter writing!

  5. I still write them but not as often as I should. I’m glad you are encouraging others to do so,
    Hope it’s a gr8 A to Z week
    Dragon Tails

    • Jennifer Marshburn

      Wow! You still write them! You are the first person online or off that I’ve heard to say that. Good on you! Whether or not it’s as “often as you should”, it’s more than most, so well done. Keep the art alive! Thanks for reading and happy blogging to you!

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