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Dept. of Letter Writing

An Old Skill, An Ancient Art Fading Into the Past

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: 
It seems strange
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:

This entry was originally posted at http://kaffyr.dreamwidth.org/226645.html?mode=reply, where there are currently comment count unavailable comments. You can comment there or here; I watch both.


Jun. 30th, 2012 07:11 am (UTC)
Just to have them in the family is a lovely thing, though! My Dad has a lettercard (it's like several postcards all joined together) from his Nan to his Grandad, sent during WWII when they went to visit their future daughter-in-law (my Granny) in Devon for the first time - and even though it's short, it's a lovely little picture of the time (they aren't allowed to say train times in it, because of the war) and also of her reaction, as a Londoner, getting to stay in Devonshire, and go to the sea. But apart from that my family either didn't write letters, or they were much too prone to throwing them out!

And turning fact into fiction, especially in a context like that is hard - although I can see why your Mum would want you to try. ;-) I'm meaning to try some writing up of what I have at some point, but only as non-fiction. (Although, I confess, I have been known to use occasional instances in DW historical fic! And family history names get put in my stories quite frequently.)

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