On Letter Writing

Stephen King wrote a book titled On Writing. You get a look into his life and then a look at his approach to writing. It really is a great book. That got me thinking about letter writing a little.

Why write letters? They seem useful for many reasons, but a big one is quite simply that no one much does that any more. It is a lost art. So, to write letters in itself is different, a throwback to days gone by, and more personal, perhaps. E-mails, texts, tweets, Messenger posts, Touchnotes, other social media posts, even blogs – those are the ways people seem to communicate today. Touchnotes is a postcard generated by a phone application that includes a picture and a note. Yes, it comes in the mail, but it’s more or less a glorified, more personal social media post.

None of the above are as deep as a letter, except maybe the blog posts and the long-winded social media posts. The problem with blog posts for me is remembering they are there and going out to read them – improvement needed. The problem with social media posts that are long is that the “right size” for them seems to be relatively short – snap shots into your life, not the life story. Letters sent by mail come in a form that allows the reader to sit back in various settings and see what’s there. They are personal – just to you, not for the “friends list” to see or in other forms.

Back to “why write letters,” but now looking at content.

There are friends of mind where interaction is frequent via texts, phone calls (another lost art…), Messenger, Facebook, Twitter, and email where a letter provides an alternative to provide updates on life. “Updates” are more or less reviewing what’s new, but perhaps more personal than a FB post. They could also be expounding deeper on something discussed in other media.

There are friends, too, where you want to say “thank you” for something and then add some content that could be an update on this or that or an opinion. A mere “thank you” is not enough for me.

There are situations where you want to blow off steam and it just feels good to put it on paper – plus there’s a friend out there who would understand your opinion or concern. That’s opening up and memorializing the opinion in writing. Sometimes, these are just opinions expounded upon versus true “blowing off” events. Those can also be deeper.

Then there are the “getting to know you” letters to a newer friend or to a friend where a new part of you is now open to them. Those are reviews of what you feel or know or think or do. It’s opening up yourself. Those can be fun and interesting – and could last a long time over several letters if you are old like me. There’s a lot of history that forms the person.

There are “love letters,” but, frankly, these have not been written by me for a long time. In fact, the composition of that type might be foreign to me now – is there a book on “how to write a love letter?”

Anyway, letters are fun, old fashioned ways to keep in touch. If you get one from me, one positive thing to remember is that you were being thought of. That could be scary.