Perhaps I’m old fashioned. Okay, I’m fifty one so perhaps I’m just old. Three decades ago I was cutting edge and snorting in disdain at grays. Okay, not really. But millennials and gen Xer’s are different creatures and while I’m in the unique position of “one eye on the past and one on the future” (its why I trip over things in the moment) I see a lot of way cool stuff has gone the way of the boom box and bright blue eye shadow. Specifically, because I’m supposed to talk about writerly things, the love letter is - to my knowledge nonexistent. Okay, we have those “press and hold” heart play pretties on our mobile devices but it’s simply not the same. Time for an anecdotal moment (that’s another writerly thing)
I was a pre-typewriter writer. Yes, I wrote with pen and paper. My children will tell you I etched with pick ax and stone but that medium preceded me by at least a minute or two. I used to scrawl copious mad letters and sappy song lyrics. I flunked geometry because I used class time to scribe notes to distant friends and penned copies of said songs unsung. It was a glorious few years. There is something exquisite in forming each letter of each thought, that tactile bridge between letter and soul, creating a verbal sketch for the world, or maybe two or three pairs of eyes beyond our own. Sure, I took typing (flunked that too. Don’t judge me though. I was acing Honors English and Latin.) and now, all my poems and tomes and sappy scribes reside on my hard drive and a thumb drive and a printed copy but once every few years I pull down that old three ring from the closet shelf and I am transported by purple ink and blue lines to a sacred space, unreachable by staring at a flickering screen, keys clicking in intermittent madness. I have hundreds of these letters, these love letters to those gone and present. It has become a part of who I am, and in its pen and paper incarnation may outlast me as it has outlasted the floppy disk and dot matrix text. I still carry pen and paper with me and it is my medium for the genesis of both poetry and fiction, as well as some sappy song lyrics. I don’t have to charge it or update it or wait for internet service. I just write.
Don’t ditch your technology in favor of vellum and gall. Technology is your friend, but if you’re a bit jaded or stagnant, simplify. Grab a pen and paper and find a moment to jot a love letter, to yourself, your family member or that glimmer in your future. Get in touch with the written word as an organic, natural extension of yourself, each stroke and letter uniquely formed by your own hand. Yes, it will be you on paper. Let yourself fall in love with letters again. (See what I did there? “Love letters?” Get it?)
Anyway, I can type a bazillion words a minute now and frequently do so because not only am I a writer, but I’m an accountant, wife, mom and ooh – ooh, my first grandchild was born just three days ago. (fresh baby…mmmm) I think I’m going to write a love letter to him. Hand printed, on beautiful paper. Maybe I’ll do several and give them to him when he’s eight, or eighteen. (more anecdotal stuff there, working the grandchild into my post. Yes, that happened.) But for now, I have to charge my laptop and phone and update my editing software. And you need to go write something.
Peace from the third coast.