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Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Postmaster, Letter Writer

Looking back at myself over the past two years, and I wonder where I became so infatuated with the method in which words met a page. In days gone by, it did not much matter. If you typed it, or your secretary--the words were there and that was all. And here I am, pouring over my computer, wishing it was my Olivetti or one of my fountain pens.

Then it hits me: email.

The great, unintended footprint of our great writers--your beatnicks, lost generation, gonzo reporters--are their letters. It may not have been important to them back in the day, because EVERYONE had stacks of the damn things floating around the office waiting for the filing cabinet or the paper shredder. We don't get that joy today. There isn't the same kind of footprint.

I delight in letter writing. I write my sister away at school. I write my fiance, even though we speak on the phone every day. Sometimes I write Barack and Michelle Obama. My congressman has gotten a letter or two from me. And I have written many perspective editors, bosses, and a few writers, hoping to elicit a response. But the fact is that letter writing is a mostly dead art. Like making hats, learning Latin, or playing the sitar, no one writes letters anymore because it is easier to talk on the phone, text, or send an email. They are fast. They are instant. They are instantly disposable.

So I lament in that there will be no collection of letters when I die. (Lest you forget, every writer imagines that he or she will be one of the greats.) No one will want to wade through the mindless emails that I have sent. They do not yield much; they are for utility only. Letters in the mail are art.

That's all from Elliott at the Kitchen Table, telling you to watch hometownlife.com this week for my latest article from South Lyon.