I've been writing a letter to a friend for the past two days, and I'm annoyed with myself at how difficult, how truly difficult it seems to be for me to write a letter.
I used to write a great many letters. I look into my computer files and see scores of them, to relatives, to friends. And those are just the ones I've saved since having a computer, in the 1990s and certainly not all of them. I once wrote letters regularly. I used to love writing them, and I used to love receiving them.* But all those things they say, all those things the old folks says, about telephones and emails and posts and the fast-fast-fast life we lead must be right, because I find myself incapable of sticking to it.
It's hard to know how to begin without sounding puerile or pretentious. It's hard to know what to say - what will be interesting to the person at the other end, what will they want to hear about vs. what they'd pull out their eyes rather than see ... should it be light, should it be full of surface news that's fun to read, should it be some vast and deep invitation to weighty long-term communication? Should it be some mix of these things, and if so, what ratios should I use?
I must write more letters, because I suspect I'll only become adept at them again with practice.
*here's the asterisk. It's because these lyrics from Arcade Fire's "We Used to Wait" speak to me about letters:
How we used to wait for letters to arrive
But what's stranger still
Is how something so small can keep you alive
And because I love the song, I think I'll let you see it, here:
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