Image Attribution

(Owlet header image found via a Google Image search, and came from Etsy artist Bestiary Ink)

02 August 2011

Lost Art

You may recall my 2010 New Year's Resolution to write more pen-and-paper notes and letters -- and mail them. I loved this idea so much, I've made a point of keeping note cards and stamps in my desk drawer at work, so when I need a break, or when I miss a friend, I can quickly scribble a little message (or a longer one) and pop it in the mail that day. I love this. I love doing it, and I love the happiness it brings back to me when my recipient opens their mailbox to a surprise. Which brings me to the point of this post, which is that I'm most loving how this effort has inspired me to rediscover the lost art of letter writing. Not just note writing. Not just happy birthday cards, and thank you notes, or holiday greetings. But real letter writing.

I Googled "the art of letter writing" and found so many great resources and commentaries that echo my own thoughts. Here's my favorite (via The Art of Manliness):

"In the days of cell phones, email and text messages, letter writing can seem hopelessly outdated. But it’s an art worth bringing back, and not because of some misplaced sense of nostalgia either. The writing and reception of letters will always offer an experience that modern technology cannot touch. Twitter is effective for broadcasting what you’re eating for lunch, and email is fantastic for quick exchanges on the most pertinent pieces of information. But when it comes to sharing one’s true thoughts, sincere sympathies, ardent love, and deepest gratitude, words traveling along an invisible superhighway will never suffice. Why?

Because sending a letter is the next best thing to showing up personally at someone’s door. Ink from your pen touches the stationary, your fingers touch the paper, your saliva seals the envelope. Something tangible from your world travels through machines and hands, and deposits itself in another’s mailbox. Your letter is then carried inside as an invited guest. The paper that was sitting on your desk, now sits on another’s. The recipient handles the paper that you handled. Letters create a connection that modern, impersonal forms of communication will never approach."

One of my dear friends received a card from me last year, in my one-note-per-week attempt, and was inspired to write back. She never uttered a word about it, but then one day a hand-written envelope appeared in my mailbox, completely unexpected and wonderful. Her note was not a quick scribble, and it was not a thank you. It was a letter. It told me of her days and how they'd been spent recently, her thoughts and her feelings. And it inspired me right back. We've now exchanged several real correspondences by mail (in addition to other more modern communiques) over the past year, and each time one appears in my mailbox, I literally cannot wait to open it and hear her voice. It's a conversation. And it's magical. It evokes... Anne of Green Gables, or Little Women, or another return-to-the-past symbol. Only better. Because it's real, and it's yours, and it's between you and someone in your life who you can't just pop over to see.

So, dear friends and loved ones, I hope you know to expect more cards and letters from me, because I'm embracing the lost art of snail mail forever! Check your mailboxes. And write back!

Imagine if we all picked up a pen and paper and wrote each other each time we got a note. How connected our little world could be. Especially in a world so constantly evermore dependent on electronics, it's so easy to default to fewer actual phone calls, mail, etc. This is better. Trust me.

(here are a few places to find some inspiring note cards and stationery to get you started... sparrowsnestscript; Linda & Harriet; The Paper Source; Papyrus; Sweet Harvey; Naomi Lynn... or just pull a page off your printer.)


  1. Love this post. I AM inspired but have to admit I am also a victim of the lost art of using my hands to write in general. It's sad that I can start to take notes on paper and my hands cramp and become lazy and my penmanship is so deplorable that I cannot even read my owne writting. So I turn to the keyboard. I often wonder what generation will be the first to not know how to hand write at all or if through evolution, our pointer fingers will become longer and pointer like pens and pencils. Silly, I know but scary as well! Thanks for the post love!

  2. I love sending and receiving real letters! I don't send them often enough and love the idea of keeping a few notecards and stamps with you at all times. I am a sucker for cute notecards.