I think the art of letter writing is quickly becoming a lost art in this time of instant technology communications. We now use email and text to communicate almost to the point that even the telephone is quickly waning in use. We use shorthand, abbreviations and forward information so we don’t have to write a full letter
I have a scrapbook that my great grandmother kept of post cards that she received from her husband and siblings. When I read the post cards they are little notes about everyday life. They have managed to last long after all those who wrote them are long gone. These postcards in just a few sentences are windows in to the lives of my family years ago.
One of the things I do each month is write a note to a some of my of friends and acquaintances. I am not sure what the recipients think but I am hoping they enjoy finding something in their post box that isn’t junk mail or a bill. When I started this adventure at the beginning of the year I struggled to write a note of four or five sentences. I wasn’t sure what to write or how to start, how to finish, or tie it all together. With practice, like any art form I find that writing these notes to my friends is getting easier to do. I no longer struggle and my messages are becoming more personal in nature to each recipient . Letter writing is also a different form of writing from my blog, my book, my emails and definitely my texts. Challenges of writing in different genres causes me to become a better writer in each of them. It is a continuum of learning.
It has also resulted in some of my friends reciprocating. Just yesterday I received two notes from two friends who I recently had written to. What a wonderful thing to get. Those notes from my friends said I am thinking of you in a very concrete real way that trumps everything else that happened that day, the trials of the job, the rotten weather, how I feel, and everything else. It was a reflection of the letters I had written back at me.
“I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library.” ― Jorge Luis Borges
With the advent of the E-reader life has changed for want-to-be writers. It has become easy to by pass the gatekeepers of what gets published and what doesn’t, the editors of all the publishing houses, and self-publish.
In some ways this era of self-publishing is good, because the big publishing houses have not always done a great job of recognizing a new author or genre. The famous 50 shades series began as self-published after being turned down by big print publishing houses. It was only after she self-published did she hit the NYT best seller list. I think part of it is because because this major publishers want to find that next piece of great literature, or Pulitzer prize winning title.
Most people read for relaxation, and what they read is a guilty pleasure. Most of what ends up on best seller lists never makes any literary milestones other than selling a ton of books. Mr. Ranger Sir reads classic sci-fi, though that genre is becoming so much more segmented and specialized I am not sure what sci-fi means any more. A friend reads everything Nora Roberts publishes. Another family member devours biographies everything from celebrities to historic people who changed the world. A cousin enjoys Christian historical fiction. My mom and her group of friends swap pulp romances that they read by the hundreds. I enjoy the “who done it?” with an imperfect middle aged female protagonist.
If you are a veracious reader it also an expensive habit. Prior to the E-reader you depended on friends sharing books, used book stores, rummage sales and your local library to make your addiction affordable. With the E-reader it takes a little more effort to keep your reading habit from sending you to the poor farm. E-books are often not lendable, or if so only once! Libraries are as a good of a deal as they were before you had an E-reader, you just need to get signed up and start checking books out. There are lending sites for eBooks out there, though not widely use I have found success with one (lendle.me) and will continue to put my purchased books out there, lending and borrowing titles. I also watch the daily Amazon top 100 free books. I have picked up titles that big names are a giving away for an hour or two. I have also taken out many unknowns. Some have prompted me to buy others by the same author. Others were worth just what I paid for them nothing. After a chapter and it is clearly not worth the read, I go to the end, give it one star and delete it. Without taking a minute to rate the book, you are doing other readers and the author a disservice. We all need feedback. If you want to write a review go for it, but just giving it a rating helps to let folks know if free is good or not. If you are the only one star it won’t make a difference, if you are part of a crowd who was disappointed the rating will help tell the story.
In the meantime summer is a great time for reading and relaxing may you find a great guilty pleasure.