Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The Art of Written Correspondence

The best decision I've made this year is to stop watching TV and to start writing letters. It's taken me a little while to try some different things out, but I think I've finally gotten the hang of it. Over the past couple months, I've quite romanticized the written word and as such, I've become more and more enamored with different elements of the process.  

The ritual of receiving. On days that I find letters in my mailbox, I put on a kettle of hot water and
make a big mug of tea before sitting down at my desk (I finally procured the perfect writing desk and I am absolutely smitten with it). I log my letters in my letter ledger, pick which stationery to reply with, and respond away (usually with my extra-fine nib Lamy Safari fountain pen). 

The patience of paper. I like that I can take as much time as I need to articulate my thoughts in the perfect way. It's something that can't quite be recreated in a conversation. I can unapologetically take a break from writing a letter and divert my attention elsewhere, or simply decide to pick it up the next day. And maybe not perfect, but in a way that feels good. Even with hand writing vs typing.. there is something about the way new thoughts fill the space that's left when my pen is physically catching up with my previous thought.  I think in a different tone, my voice changes, and suddenly I have a slightly different perspective on the world. 

Letter Ledger from
Word search on the back of an envelope (i.e.: I'm awesome)

The physical manifestation of a letter. When you send someone a letter, everything about the way they receive your words has been crafted by you. The paper you write on, the envelope you send it in, the pen and ink you use, the way you address the letter, the return label, the stamp you choose, as well as any other adornments you choose to add-- it's all so personal. Add to that the fact that this little paper parcel is then hand/truck/plane couriered to their door, and then eventually carried into their home. They hold the paper that you held and poured your time and ink into. They read the words that you wrote just for them, in your hand. For a few minutes, traveling across the country is almost as easy as folding a map, or in this case, unfolding a letter.
I know what you're thinking.. I was going for an alliteration in the heading of this paragraph but it didn't happen-- sorry!

I have a handful of pen pals, a few of which I have known in person for years and wanted to stay in touch with or become reacquainted with, and a few of which I have never met. I have yet to have a bad day where receiving a letter did not instantly cheer me up. The most surprising experience for me so far has been realizing that I do consider a couple of my pen pals that I have never even met my actual friends. When I have certain things that come up in my life or am going through challenges, I want to consult them and get their feedback, and when things aren't going that great on their end, I become alarmingly concerned. That's not to say that it's the same as knowing someone in person; it's definitely different. But it's also wonderful and totally rewarding. It's a type of relationship I never would have considered investing so much of myself in before. 

I recently purchased an eight volume set of Abe Lincoln's correspondences (I know..). Now he was a seriously good letter-writer. I have some work to do to get on that level (and admittedly, I need to work on my penmanship).

"Letter writing is the only device for combining solitude with good company"
-Lord Byron

No comments:

Post a Comment

The Heart Archives. All rights reserved. © Maira Gall.