Sadly, I no longer write letters. I have proof that I once did. For a momentous birthday, my friend Patty presented me with a box of our correspondence. A decorated, beautiful box, tied with grosgrain ribbon. And inside were all the letters we'd written as new wives and young mothers. A treasure. I have other boxes of letters, saved over the years, mostly because I wanted to remember an event or a place or, most likely, the friend who wrote to me. My father wrote beautiful letters and I've saved some of those. I've tossed a few letters, too. I once burned a fat pack of love letters written on heavy parchment by an out-of-favor boyfriend, burned them away, standing tearfully in the alley behind my house with my best friend as witness.
So I love this post from the Novel Journey blog, about letters, penpals, writing. I like the quotes, including this from a letter published in a book my friend Joan gave me, Letters to Children by C.S. Lewis:
“If you are only interested in writing you will never be a writer, because you will have nothing to write about.”
Joan still writes the occasional note to me. But mostly it's email. I recently read an article about Facebook and Twitter. In the article, the defender of what many contend will be the end of "real" writing compared some of the abbreviated status updates and quick replies we've all come to love/ hate to the brevity of one of our most treasured writers:
This is my letter to the World/ That never Wrote to Me.
OK, none of my Facebook updates even come close to Emily Dickinson.
So you won't find me burning letters in my alley these days. I'll hang on to them as proof that letter writing once existed. But letters aren't the only way to stay connected with things to write about. We can count our modern day penpals- our email connections. Why else would writers save hundreds of their emails, squirreling them away into labeled folders with names like "good words," and "characters" and "quotes."
When was the last time you wrote a real letter, a long one, with a stamp and an envelope, nice stationery, C.S. Lewis-worthy?