The Art of Letter Writing, Part 1

I don’t have the privilege to be able to say “I remember the days when  everyone used to send each other letters to communicate.” I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. Technically, if I wanted to, I can still write a letter and mail it to a family member or a friend. Unlike email (even those are starting to dwindle amongst the younger generations) or social networks, a response would not be as fast. Yet, I would like to do that, either by handwriting a letter or typing one, to send letters and be involved with the experience of sharing ideas with friends and receiving their deepest thoughts and feelings in return and to share the art of writing.

Keith Sharon, a writer for the OC Register and supporter of revitalizing the art of letter writing, wrote about his recent experiences of letter writing in the article “Lettering in futility: the art of being ignored.”

In the article he retells the story of how he bought his type writer online, only to have received it broken. He got it fixed after a few days of hunting for a type writer repair shop. Once he was set to start typing, he started a new writing quest, which he calls Project 88.

His plan was to write letters with his type writer, a Smith-Corona Eighty-Eight Secretarial (circa 1960s), and send them to friends, actors, professionals, writers, and others in hopes of getting responses that would lead to good stories and good writing. Unfortunately, he didn’t receive many responders. Not even “slam-dunk responders,” such as Shaun Usher who runs a website called Letters of Note in appreciation of the craft of writing letters, replied back to him.

People are too busy to write letters. He understands.

“Here are the Project 88 totals: I wrote 33 letters – about 85 pages total. I got one response,” said Sharon. “Let me be more precise. I got one response from the person I wrote to.”

To get more responses from people, he expanded his reach and invited everyone to send  him a letter through the mail for the benefit of letter writing.

Since the article’s publication on March 13, 2013, he’s received an increase number of responses. One of his friends admits “It’s so rare today to go to the mailbox and find something that’s not a bill, or a plea for a donation of some sort.”

Lately, I too have been writing letters. And maybe it will be less rare to find something new in my mail box other than the occasional bill.

– Jonathan Lugo

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