The Dying Art of Letter-writing

This week I got my first letter from my auntie of the year.  She writes to me very regularly, as well as to various other members of our family.  Today I popped my reply into the post, which should be starting its journey down to Buckinghamshire.

Let me tell you some things about my auntie.  She does not have Facebook, or Twitter, or even an email address.  She has not even been familiar with mobile phones for very long.  She is in her early fifties, and used to teach at primary school.  She's never married or had children, but has been writing letters to her nieces and nephews since we were all little.  They have been something of a constant in my life, and she has always had something to say.

Whilst I was writing my response, I began to think about this new and modern world that we live in.  Nowadays the "done thing" is to send an email, or message the person you want to speak to using the social network of their choice.  Just how many people sit down and actually write a letter?  The type where you put pen to paper and then put the result into the post.  It might sound like an old-fashioned notion, but give it some thought.

What do you get through your letter-box these days?  Bills and junk mail, maybe your magazine that you subscribed to, or that order you placed online.  Just how much of your mail are you actually pleased to see?  Wouldn't it be nice to receive a letter from a friend or a relative, and know that someone has actually thought enough of you not only to sit down and write something for you, but then to spend money on the postage to send it to you?  Granted, you can get the same from email, but in all honesty I don't think it feels the same as a handwritten letter.

So that's what I think we should all do: bring back letter-writing.  We all have one or more family members who don't have a computer - my grandmother will not have one in her house.  Why not write them a letter and pop it in the post?  You never know - you might come home one day to find a nice little reply waiting for you.  It doesn't even have to be interesting.  My letter that I posted off today was eight pages long, and consisted of work, tummy-ache, wedding plans, work, my kindle, what's happening in the city, hen parties, more work and  - for some odd reason - cupcakes.  Not to mention the fact that letter-writing is still writing, and might be something to tide you over for those horrible bouts of writers block.  Certainly it will be more productive than staring at your screen scratching your head, and maybe by doing so you could make somebody happy. 

When you've finished your letter, popped a stamp onto it and dropped it into the post box, you may find yourself hurrying back to your computer with a head brimming with ideas to finish your novel, or screenplay, or poem.  Regardless of what you believe in: Karma, blind luck, guardian angels or the god of your choice, it can't be denied that a change is as good as a rest.

Current progress, writing-wise: I'm still playing around with two ideas for the Write Space competition.  Whichever one I finish first will be the one entered, provided I am happy with it of course.  Fortunately some messing around researching on YouTube has been giving me some great help with developing some more of my characters.  I've also got an idea for an alternative novel thanks to some delightful inspiration from the trailers and teasers from the upcoming Koei game, Dynasty Warriors 7.  The Jin dynasty is going to be a big help provided the characters turn out the way the trailers portray them.

HC x


  1. I too had an auntie who was my pen-pal all through my childhood and coincidentally a retired schoolteacher who had no children of her own. She died many years ago now.
    You are right about letter writing. Letters from loved ones are something to treasure and put away in a safe place so you may read them later on in life and reflect.

  2. John, what a lovely coincidence. Thinking back has made me remember how my attitude changed to the letters. When I was a little girl I used to get excited for her letters, then as a teenager they used to annoy me and make me roll my eyes. But I'm glad she persisted.

    I remember when I was living in halls I opened one of the letters whilst my flatmate was in the room. I remember she was really impressed that I had someone who was willing to take the time to write to me. That's when I realised how special these letters were.

    That being said, I received a letter from my paternal grandfather a few months later. My grandad is agorophobic and I rarely see him. I have never received a letter from him before or since. I read that letter until it fell apart, and it was only a short letter.

  3. Hi HC, I received a letter from an old friend recently containing a photograph of her baby granddaughter. She normally corresponds via email but on this occasion was on holiday and far from either a computer or wireless signal and said she just felt like sitting down to write. It was a lovely surprise and made my day. Letters are rare things you are right. I used to correspond with a pen pal in America as a child and finally hearing a reply drop onto the mat was always an occasion. She and I then moved to email and more recently, to Facebook and Linkedin where we can follow each other daily. Nothing quite beats a letter though - I do agree :-)

  4. Hi Deborah,

    First off, many congratulations to your friend on the birth of her grand-daughter. There are very few things nicer than babies. Photographs of them are as treasured as the letters they come with. It's especially nice to think that a situation that most people would now see as a nightmare could result in such a lovely surprise for you.

    The internet and the many sites like facebook that have appeared on it have given us wonderful chances of making new friends. However with the existing ones I think that a letter is always nice. I had two pen-pals as a teenager (one in Germany and one in Scunthorpe) that I gradually lost contact with. Looking back, I find this is a shame, and makes me value my aunt's letters all the more (not least because she has not yet mastered her mobile phone enough to reply to a text!)

    Thanks for stopping by!

    HC xx


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