The Law of the Letter

(Written 24th September, 2013)

Dear Reader,

I really like writing letters. With a pen and paper, to be more specific. I don’t really know why. Perhaps it’s the challenge? Email programs and word processors allow almost endless editing; with pen and paper you must either have multiple drafts or be willing to be honest about your mistakes. It also helps to plan ahead: it is rare for me to write a letter without premeditation.

So, I am writing this on paper with a BiC médium; later I plan to copy the handwritten letter to the computer. I hope to resist the urge to edit, because that would defeat the purpose! I must be careful what I write, because I’m committed to it.

I think these restrictions are actually what makes letter-writing so appealing to me. Certainly it is but one example of a constraint, much like those I see real writers and poets using. Viewing things more mathematically, one could say that the creative process is aided by pruning down the space of all possible texts to a more reasonable size.

I still have a very important freedom, however: the reader and writer (that is, you and I) don’t have to approach the letter in real time. I can pause for thought, you can get a cup of tea (or whatever). I can also squeeze in extra letters when I’ve missed them…

I think it will feel quite odd not to put this letter in an addressed, stamped envelope when I am finished. That is certainly an element of the ritual of writing a real letter. But sentimentality is a slippery slope and I don’t wish to start pining for the days when I would have given my letter to somebody on horseback.

Even if those particular features will not be present, I’ve enjoyed this little communication. Perhaps another time I will actually try to impart something like a message…




One response to “The Law of the Letter

  1. Hmm… I think it needs to be put in an envelope and posted, even if only to yourself. Or your little sister – she always enjoys a letter 🙂