On correspondence

Earlier in my life I was a very committed letter-writer. Partially this is because I am old and my need to correspond predated email; partially it is because I like to write and it's nice to have an audience (to wit: this blog); and partially, even now when I feverishly check my email all day (just in case, just in case, just in case),I still believe that there is something truly joyful about receiving personal correspondence by post. I am notoriously (and only very slightly apologetically) sentimental. It means something to me to see my friend's handwriting and to know that the paper now in my hands was previously in his hands. Even that the paper had to make a physical journey to link the two of us strikes me as poetic. I have mentioned this before--here and here, for instance, always a bit wistfully.

Imagine then, my surprise and pleasure in finding I am not alone. This week I have been pointed in the direction of Letters of Note, a curated collection of correspondence by persons of some celebrity. It is terribly diverting. Albert Einstein writes admiringly to Mahatma Gandhi; Babe Ruth encourages an ill child; David O. Selznick defends "damn"; Mark Twain addresses burglars; E.B. White discusses his dachshund; William Saroyan advises his young son about love. There are hundreds of letters. I think you should read some; you'll be the better for it. As for me, I can only read a few at a time because so many of them make me cry--no great feat really, as it seems rather more remarkable when things do not make me cry. Still. Proceed with caution.

Then, as though that were not enough, I came across the Letter Writers Alliance. The very small fee required for membership seems well worth spending in exchange for the warm glow of fellowship which, frankly, upon learning that such an association even exists has already begun to spread through my letter-loving heart.

Mostly though, I'm struck by how comparatively few letters I write these days and what a pity it is. I will send away for my membership card and begin to mend my ways. Perhaps you would like to do the same. I'm sure that someone you love lives elsewhere. She'd very much like to hear from you.

Having read this, my friend Amanda let me know about the letter a day challenge for the month of February. We're three days behind, but I'll bet we can catch up.