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The lost art of letter writing October 21, 2009

Posted by Lauren Cooke in Blogs, Crafting, Life, Chatter & Politics, Wordy Business.
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Life isn’t being very kind to my friends at the moment, and I can only say that I desperately hope I can help them through the bad times and that they will be OK again as time passes. Life is mean sometimes, and resisting dropping into that pit of dark dark depression and pessimism is more difficult now than it has been in a while.

Anyway, miserable-ness aside, I am currently involved in a letter writing blog swap with the lovely Sarah Lee from xo.sorcha.ox. The task is to write each other a letter on any topic and send them. As she lives in Oz and I in the UK, I am looking forward to some trans-continental communications, and am just hoping that my rudimentary letter writing skills are good enough!

Letter Writing Blog Swap

Letter Writing Blog Swap

You see, this letter writing business got me thinking about how the art of written communication has all but died. Once upon a time it was the only way that messages of love, and passion, and sadness could be conveyed to distant cousins and far away climes. Now, however, we text and we message – and as useful as these are there is a certain chunk of culture that is dying and fading away.

After all, eloquence isn’t a pre-requisite in texting. Flowery language, elegant prose and a wide vocabulary in fact defeat the point, and are avoided so as to keep the word count down. Where once communication was often just for the sake of communication, it is now based on achieving goals, or communicating specific information. Writing a letter because you love someone and want to stay in contact – it is pretty much unheard of in the modern age.

I have friends who are letter writing moguls. Their correspondence boxes are jam packed with delicate cards, scented paper, fountain pens and other such crafty creations. They write thank you cards and “missing you” letters, and don’t rely on the internet or technology to keep them in touch.

Having written my letter (on the computer I am afraid, I don’t have good enough handwriting to write a whole letter by hand!), I am sold to the whole idea. Hopefully Sarah will want to keep the contact up, and I may even have a new writing buddy. I need to train myself to write thank you cards, and to become a true writer.

Do you write letters? Do you think that the art is dying? Or, perhaps, you think letter writing should die and is irrelevant for modern times?

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Comments»

1. Caroline - October 21, 2009

I write letters a lot – I don’t think there’s anything as exciting as getting unsolicited mail through the post. I even blogged about for a while:

http://thewritingdesk.wordpress.com/

But then I started forgetting to take photos! Either way, it’s a great way to let people know you’re thinking of them – and NOTHING says thank you like a thank you letter – a text just doesn’t cut it!

2. Lauren Cooke - October 21, 2009

You are one of the letter moguls I wrote about 🙂 I envy so much the ability to keep that communication up – all my pen pals eventually got forgotten!

3. Toni - October 21, 2009

I love sending and receiving letters. I’ve tried the whole penpal thing before, but I never seem to find people whose letters I genuinely enjoy reading. So I flunk out 😦 I’d love to do something like what you’re doing and actually… do it.

And in answer to the question – yes, letter writing is dying out. Actually, it’s fairly dead already. I’m a big fan of email, but nothing beats a letter or something hand-written.

4. Kate - October 21, 2009

I would love to write more letters (there does another item for the to-do list). I plan on starting off slowly though by included proper notes with my Christmas cards this year.

5. Jin6655321 - October 21, 2009

Letter writing is dead, it’s getting harder and harder, near impossible, actually, to find cute stationary now days. I love writing letters and thankfully, I have friends who enjoy writing and receiving letters, though, it is getting harder and harder to find the time.

An easy way to start the habit is postcrossing.com which is basically a postcard swap from people all over world. It’s easy and quick since, you know, it’s a post card. You only have to write a few sentence. Oh, and if you’re lucky, you might get a card from Finland with a Moomin stamp!

6. Lauren Cooke - October 21, 2009

Hi Toni – I agree, keeping it interesting and keeping it frequent are the big challenges with penpals. I also agree that it is pretty much dead – and whilst email is brilliant, useful and fast, letter writing need to be preserved for those occasions where nothing less will do.

Kate – you and me both!! I need to get addresses together for christmas cards – and an address book!

Hi Jin, thanks for commenting. I tried to find some nice paper in town, but the stationary shop doesn’t stock letter writing paper. How absurd! I will definitely have a look at postcrossing.com, it sounds brilliant.

7. Rodney Gagnon - November 8, 2009

Hi Lauren,

I just wrote of my lament for the lost art after obsessing about an article in the Boston Globe. I definitely feel the “advancement” of communication technology is hindering our ability to fully communicate with each other. Thanks for the post. I think it’s time for me to get some nice eco-friendly stationary and pen some thoughts to someone.

Best,
-Rodney

8. sewingandcycling - December 12, 2009

I would love to write and receive more letters, I got my first letter from a friend the other day and it was a joy.

I know what you mean about handwriting it is a bit hard but I’m hoping with practice mine gets better.

Do you know of any others who want letters? I’d love to send some to anyone and everyone who wants one and don’t know where to begin. (A blog was my first option, booksandletters.wordpress.com)

love your idea and blog 🙂

Liz


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