Monday, 17 October 2011

The breathings of a heart

Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart.
~William Wordsworth

What happens when an art dies or disappears or quite simply becomes redundant? Whilst I have no serious objection to the speed, efficiency and mastery of email, text and tweeting I must confess that my preferred method of communication is good old fashioned letter writing. There’s something about the sound of a letter dropping on the door mat. It sounds more  pleasing than the 'ping' of a message in the ‘inbox’. Don’t you agree?

As the recipient of the occasional letter, I do enjoy the chance to stop, pour a cup of tea and savour a good gossipy letter telling of family events and occasions. It’s a joy to hear from an old college friend getting in touch after several years. Even the old fashioned courtesy note of thanks for a birthday present from a nephew or niece comes as a pleasant surprise instead of a texted ‘thanks’ or indeed acknowledgement at all in the days of instant communication. Sometimes I think we are so busy being busy with life that we don’t take time to record any of it and share it. What if we did? What difference might that make? What relationships and friendships might grow as a result of this? What might be recorded for futures generations through pen and ink? Will our communication systems of today hold interest and intrigue for our readers of tomorrow?

On a recent visit to family in Canada, we shared a letter written many years ago from a grandfather to his son. I don’t suppose when grandfather wrote it he thought that this particular letter would be read by grand children long after he had gone. As several of the grand children had been born after grandfather died it was lovely to have some insight into this member of the family they did not have the opportunity to meet. His letter, an extremely well written and detailed missive not only told something of the day but also of the man himself. He wrote about his thoughts and observations of life and his good wishes for his family too. His letter prompted much discussion over dinner about grandfather, grandmother and the events of the day. His letter, no doubt had taken time and effort to write. It had been written by a generation who would never experience email and speedy communication. But in writing this letter and sending it to his son and being retained by the family, the next generation were able to learn something more about family. Questions were asked and a few gaps in family history were filled.

This month I’m launching a campaign to bring back the art of letter writing using pen and ink … very old fashioned I know, but I think it will be good practice for my letter writing. I encourage you to do the same. Set yourself a target to write least 3 letters this month. Let me know how it goes. Who knows what may come about as a result of this little project for the autumn months.


  1. You are so right about the deeper pleasure and nostalgia over handwritten letters. There's an added dimension to the communication, for sure.
    BTW, I passed on an award to you today. Mosie on by and pick it up.

  2. Thanks for my lovely award Elizabeth ... now polished and sitting proudly on my virtual mantlepiece.


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