Letter Writing

Letter writing is important to me. I’ll write them on paper or as a long email depending on the recipient and what they prefer. Kind of like reading – it doesn’t matter to me if the book is printed, or on my kindle or even on my phone. So long as I can get my hands on it, it’s mine, and I’m reading it or writing it.

I used letters to keep in touch with my Grandmothers while I was living in the UK. One had the most beautiful set of paper: floral with scattered scrabble pieces. The other is techy and prefers to receive emails. Now I’m back in Sydney, it’s the reverse, using letters to keep in touch with my husband’s grandparents.

I use emailed letters to keep in touch with former colleagues and some uni friends. It’s a fun and personal way to catch up with people who don’t post it all on social media. Instagram is picture-perfect, Twitter is a snippet of thought, Facebook is a random collection of article links and holiday photos – but the letter is the long-read where people divulge what most excites and most troubles them. The letter is more balanced and intimate.

I write letters to have conversations with people that I wouldn’t or can’t have in real life: people who may have passed on, or are no longer in my life, my younger or future self. To get out of my head and onto paper everything that I think I’m feeling. Often, writing it down is enough to let it all out. Or even to realise that what I think I’m feeling is disconnected from what I’m actually feeling. It can be easier to see negative (self-)talk or hyperbole written in print, than in my head.

I use letters as pep-talks. If I want to inspire my current self, I might write myself a letter, a long affirmation, a vow, a promise, an encouraging and understanding friendly letter. I’ll try to turn that negative self-talk around.

I’ve always been curious about the fan-letter. I think I found fanfiction before ever I realised that you could write authors letters and they might actually read them. Strange, but I guess I used to put authors on a pedestal and forget that they were live humans and contactable. I’ve not sat down to write a private letter to an author yet. Although, to a degree, some of the review style posts on this blog, and that I’m planning for the blog later this year, are more open letters to the author – thanking them for the little gem of joy their book brought in to my life.

How important is letter writing to you?