A couple of Saturdays back, I wrote a post about “The Lost Art of Letter Writing.” While most of the details of the post are behind the paywall of my SubscribeStar page, the meat of the post was in the preview: letter-writing is an intimate, thoughtful, and fun way to connect (or reconnect) with old friends and family.
I started my bout of letter writing fifteen days ago, sending out ten postcards I’d purchased at Universal Studios for $12. After churning through those postcards, I found two greeting cards in a drawer, and send those out. The cards had nothing to do with Christmas—a former student over a decade ago gave them to me, and they featured a photograph of a lizard he’d taken in the desert—but they were better than nothing.
By that point, facing some free time and having caught the bug, I wrote two letters. Lacking cards or postcards, I turned to an old notebook I’d picked up at Target years ago—a simple spiral-bound, ruled notebook with a wacky robot on the cover. The single page opened up new vistas of development, allowing for slightly longer, more detailed letters.
Over the following days, I wrote another ten letters, for a total twenty-four postcards, cards, and letters (if my counting is correct). I shared the SubscribeStar post to my personal Facebook page, offering to write a letter to anyone willing to send me their address (I had two takers—a good start!). I also contacted friends and asked if they’d like a letter. Most of them agreed, though I was surprised when a couple declined. I guess not everyone enjoys receiving mail.
But now I’m really hooked. It’s a very fun pastime, and I’m finding that recipients love receiving them. I’m also eager to see if anyone has written back. The anticipation is part of the fun—waiting for the letter to arrive, and to hear back from the recipient.
It seems I’m not alone. One member of a Telegram chat wrote about how meaningful it is to write thoughtful, handwritten letters. One friend in another chat requested (and received) one. J.R.R. Tolkien wrote annual Christmas letters to his children, addressed from Father Christmas, and which told fantastical tales about Arctic adventures.
Audre Myers, a regular contributor to Nebraska Energy Observer and a frequent commenter here, pondered about the lack of editions of collected letters in the future. That does present an interesting challenge for historians. Presumably, future historians will somehow have access to archives of personal e-mail correspondence, but how will they gain it? Will they sift through gigabytes of unopened junk mail to get to the truly personal missives?
E-mail is a wonderful innovation (and I love writing those, too!), but the format lacks the sentimentality of a handwritten letter. The most moving, personal e-mail would be better as a letter, even if the content were the same: there is something magical and intimate about putting pen to paper. It allows for a deeper connection between writer and reader—the reader can see the pen strokes, the globbed ink at the starts of words, the awkwardly corrected mistakes—and the effort required, though minimal, makes the letter more meaningful.
Anyone with a decent typing speed can peck out an e-mail comfortably in a few minutes. Writing a letter, even a short one, takes time. It also hurts! Not terribly, but I am taken back to my high school and college days or taking notes and writing essays rapidly by hand. I can tell I’m out of practice—too many long hours on the keyboard.
Regardless, it’s been a fun adventure, and I hope to keep it going. Indeed, I think letter-writing is going to be essential for building traditional and conservative communities going forward. The tech censors can’t ban us from sending mail. And if the US Postal Service somehow discriminated against conservatives, we could always turn to FedEx, UPS, or a number of other carrier options.
So, get out your pens, your paper, your envelopes, and your stamps—and start writing!
If you would like to receive a one-page, handwritten letter from me—even if you’re not a subscriber!—please visit the Contact page and submit your name and mailing address. For subscribers, I’ll write you a longer letter—and maybe throw in some doodles!
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