Posted by: Shar & Mare | July 12, 2010

The Art Of The Letter

Whether it’s handwritten or sent electronically, never underestimate the power of the written word! Here’s a guest post from T.L. Sherwood

I want to believe in change, but I’m a reader and cliché as it sounds, the more things seem to change, the more they stay the same. What jumps into your head if I ask you to imagine a bunch of people sitting around reading and yammering over coffee? Probably Starbucks or a local coffee shop downtown where bloggers and aspiring novelists hang out, right? I picture Will’s Coffee House on Bow Street or White’s Chocolate House on St. James. Never heard of them? They’re in London… In the 1700’s.

Blogs are our generation’s form of periodic essays. The ones in the 18th century were printed on thin pages and called folios but they were just as fleeting, fierce and fun as most posts are today.

And how many times – usually after postage rates rise – have you heard someone declare that letter writing is officially dead. “Who has the time or the patience to jot down a few lines?” they ask. My answer is that letter writing will be dead as soon as love is. Nothing in my memory is as exciting as finding a hand written love letter in my mailbox. What jarred me to my core was once having found a letter written so badly that instead of being able to read it right away and enjoy it, I had to sit down and study it. Was that a ‘y’ or and ‘r’? Why would he ask when I can ‘pee rum’ (see him) again?

I’m making it sound slightly worse than it was, but I also have had the incredible experience of signing on to find beautifully crafted email. I know – at first, it doesn’t seem to be the same thing as receiving a letter written on high quality stationary, but when you find an email from someone who has been thinking about you and has written lines like: “I did not react to your request to be held. I don’t need your invitation to take you in my arms. I do it so many times even without telling you.” You still have your breath taken away – and then you print it out and save it. While it may not have the same cachet as a ‘real’ letter, who is to say those feelings captured in words aren’t as powerful as those on a paper?

In 1740, Samuel Richardson started out by writing a few ‘model’ letters for unskilled writers to use as examples. He must have fallen under a spell because he ended up with the novel ‘Pamela,’ a book told entirely in letters. After that, he went on to write ‘Clarissa.’ I know I’m interested in the novel that is probably being written right now based on a series of email exchanges. Until then, I think I’ve got my own emails to catch up on to friends and family.

And that’s another thing that doesn’t seem to change, to get letters (and emails) you have to write them.



  1. I still love getting letters in the mail. I’ve saved my love letters written on blank sheets that my boyfriend (now husband) wrote to me while we were dating – all 3 of them. When someone takes the time to write you a note, savour it!

  2. I know what you mean. There’s something just so permanent and personal about the written word, like a secret whispered in your ear that you’ll remember forever.

  3. Letters are a gift from friends!

  4. I suppose a problem now is that we type too much and actually write with a pen (or pencil) too little, and so our handwritings suffer! A lecturer once jokingly commented that we type so much for the bulk of the semester that our hands ‘go into spasms after writing for 5 minutes’ to quote what she said hahah.

    I still enjoy writing by hand, there’s something to gripping a pen(-cil) and feeling it scratch across paper, compared to hitting keys and staring at a forever-blinking cursor that seems to taunt you ‘well get on with it’!

  5. my writing is like cat scratch

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