The stationery above is some recent cat stationery I found in the basement. I smeared out what I wrote because, like I've said before, letters are secrets! And if I told you, I wouldn't be a very good secret-keeper, now would I?
Here's why I write letters, and some of these reasons may match up with your own personal reasons too:
I Feel Challenged. I'm very fortunate that my life stays pretty busy and writing letters forces me to carve in real downtime. Time where my only task at hand is to write out a thoughtful response. Sometimes, I am actually 'challenged' by the letters I receive. Conversations can turn somewhat heated when the topic turns to politics or religion and I relish the chance to draft a succinct, straightforward response that summarizes my viewpoints. Letter writing, at least when you get past the first few introductory letters with a correspondent, is something that can (and should!) offer up a challenge of some kind.
It Forces Me To Reflect and Consider. As I mentioned above, I'm sometimes 'challenged' by my correspondents to back up a belief that I have. It's actually such a welcome thing; how often in life does anyone really care why you believe what you believe? Not so often. When you are writing a letter by hand, and when you are trying to really say something meaningful, you absolutely have to think ahead before you touch pen to paper. Each word should be selected with care and thoughts should be succinct, yet powerful. Letter writing requires me to reflect on new things I've never been exposed to. That's why in many of my letters I ask people to describe in great detail places they've been (and I haven't) or things they do (and I don't.) I, in many ways, live through the letters my correspondents write to me. I learn about new places and things through the eyes of another person, a person that I know only through their handwriting.
It Requires Me To Fully Understand My Stances On Things. Backing up what you believe sometimes results in major realizations. And sometimes, admitting that to a pen pal is a lot easier than admitting it to yourself.
I Enjoy It. Sometimes, I write my letters in a local tea house. Other times, I am sitting on the living room floor using the coffee table late at night. Wherever I am though, I am relaxed. Plus, no matter how many letters or postcards I get, there's always a piercing thrill when you open up your mailbox and find a letter inside. I don't think any of my other hobbies have the 'highs and lows' that letter writing brings.
I Can Put My Treasured Pens, Inks And Papers To Use. Writing out post-it notes and tapping in calendar info into my iPhone is purely utilitarian. But writing a letter by hand is like dressing for your wedding day. You carefully select your stationery (should I use my monogrammed? Or my Crane? Or my Moleskine paper?), and then select an ink and a pen. Do I want to use my Lamy? Am I feeling like using an extra fine nib or a medium? Should I use my favorite ink (Diamine Damson!) or an ink to complement the season? For non-fountain pen enthusiasts, you still select a pen for the task at hand and it's really no different. Oh, but the icing on the cake? The recipient will appreciate it!
My Circle Of Friends Is Not Just Wider, But Like I Have A Whole Extra Road That Others Don't. I feel like everyone has different 'friend nets.' You have a net you cast out that contains all the friends you know 'in real life;' co-workers, neighbors, friends from college, family, etc. You might have a 'blogger net' if you blog and regularly communicate with people online. I feel like I have one of the rarest nets of all, a 'letter writing net.' So few people have one of those, and I feel as though I've got a great 'catch.' ;)
I Have Many People With Whom I Can Share Secrets And Deep Thoughts Instead Of Just One Or Two. As adults, you naturally become more selective with people in your 'inner circle.' For most people, that inner circle is maybe only your spouse. For a letter-writer, it often includes their dearest correspondents. There's an unwritten code among avid letter writers; you keep the secrets you are told and you protect them. Writing out deep, sometimes maybe even dark thoughts can be so therapeutic for many writers. But to share that with someone you will likely never meet; and that will not truly not judge you; even more so.
I Get To Work On My Handwriting. I was always a 'B' student in elementary school in handwriting, and I never understood why I could never score an 'A'. I realize now that I just needed to slow down. Nowadays, I have to slow my hand down in order to come out with soft, flowing strokes and swashes. I've started working on different styles of handwriting; uncial, Spencerian....the list goes on. One of the biggest rewards of spending time on your penmanship is the comments you receive; people notice fairly decent handwriting nowadays because it's something that's not really appreciated anymore!
What about you? Why do you write letters? Or, why do you want to write letters if you aren't already? And if you aren't, send me a letter!