Putting pen to paper

Letter writing is something I used to do a lot of in the 1990s, but is a little bit of a lost art now that I’m a self-confessed email and SMS addict. I still remember writing to my first boyfriend while he was away at university. Every time I received a letter, my mum would put it by the front door so that I could see its outline in the frosted glass as I walked towards the house on my way home from sixth form. I’d head straight upstairs and devour every beautifully written and amusing word, before penning my response and popping it in the post the next day. The wait was worth it because what you received was a lovingly created artefact rather than speedily typed words on a screen.

Sometimes writing a letter can still seem like the most appropriate thing to do, even in 2011, and I thought this on Monday evening as I struggled to make sense of all the emotions that were whirling through my head. I jotted down a few things I wanted to say to my ex while I was on my way to meet friends, and then added more to this the following morning once I had a bit more time to think and some clarity of thought after having talked it through. At lunch time yesterday I transferred all these notes into one reasonably legible handwritten letter, popped it in the post and breathed a sigh of relief. The thought process, careful drafting and sheer amount of time it took to write that letter out in full means that it is the most well considered thing I have composed in a long time, which really helped me to get to grips with what I wanted to say.

When dealing with emotions, careful thought is certainly better than firing off a quick email in the heat of the moment. A very dear friend, who sent me a similar letter after our romantic relationship ended a few years ago, confirmed that it was as useful to write as it was to read, and said: “It gives you the space to think about things, let things go and tell the person a little about how you feel. It’s very cathartic and positive”. I couldn’t agree more. I can only hope that the recipient of my letter finds it helpful too, but I’m not quite sure whether I need him to or not. I’ve said my piece and now I feel like I can begin to move on. Think I might buy stamps for more than just birthday cards in future though.

4 thoughts on “Putting pen to paper

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  1. I put a lot of faith in hand writting. I may blog, tweet yadda yadda.. but I also penpal and more importantly I keep a hand written diary and have done solidly for the last 3 years. I find I get tetchy and anxious if I don't get out what is in my head and into my diary. I find it a wonderful way of getting things “out”.

  2. Brilliant post. I love writing letters but hardly do now. I know when I write Christmas cards I always end up practically writing letters in them! x

  3. Hmm, it's a tempting thought – since I've even reverted to a proper fountain pen when away from the computer screen. You've certainly produced a good few 'lovingly created artefacts' yourself in your time 🙂

  4. Thanks. I never got the hang of fountain pens – have always preferred my handwriting when using a medium tip ballpoint pen. Kinda wish I still had all those old letters…

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