The lost art of letter writing – not so lost after all

Our little letter writing club has been getting a lot of attention.  There have been newspaper articles, television interviews and radio spots and lots and lots of people ask about it.  We’ve got a dedicated core of writers who come to every meeting and new writers every time we meet.

After three meetings of the new Prince George Correspondents’ Club (aka that letter writing thing we do in Café Voltaire a couple of Mondays a month) a couple of things have become clear:

  1. Women write more letters than men, but there are some dedicated male letter writers out there. I’d say women out-number men about 4 to 1 when it comes to writing letters with us.  So gentlemen, if you’re looking for women with lovely penmanship who will definitely write you love letters, maybe drop by on a Monday night – some of them have got to be single.
  2. Age does not really seem to be a factor when it comes to writing letters.  We’ve had writers ranging in age from high school seniors to senior citizens including a very young man whose father was teaching him how to write what is very likely his first letter.
  3. Everybody loves a sparkly sticker; they just do.  It’s a universal truth along the same lines as a single man in possession of a good fortune being in want of a wife.
  4. All of the attention the club has received has had some interesting, and unexpected results. Yesterday, I received a letter as a direct result of the letter writing club.  An inmate at the Prince George Regional Correctional Centre wrote to me after seeing the CKPG news piece of TV.  He very politely asked if I’d write back to him or, if I were uncomfortable with that, if I’d pass his letter around at the next meeting and ask if anyone else would like to write him.  He assured me he replies to all letters, so a letter to him is guaranteed to result in a letter back.
  5. Sharing stationary, or even just showing off your new stationary, is fun.  People will ooooooohhhhhh and aaaaahhhhh over delicate writing paper or whimsical envelopes in almost the same way they comment on a new baby and we’ve been trading internet suppliers in an almost clandestine way – psst…did you know you can get handmade, personalized paper on…
  6. Do not ask to borrow my fountain pen.  Just don’t do it.  I did not realize how possessive I am about my pens and how strongly other people feel about their pens or pencils.  I met one woman who can only write in black gel ink and watched a lovely young woman use a variety of coloured pens to decorate her letters. This week I mailed letters with careful calligraphy on the envelopes and I’m pretty sure the writer would not have given up his calligraphy set to anyone.
  7. Even if you don’t think you’ve got someone to write to, you’ve got someone to write to.  A few people have come to our letter writing nights expecting some kind of presentation about how to write a letter or a talk about the importance of writing letters.  But once they found out we’re just time and space to write letters they borrowed some stationary (and in some cases pens) and started writing.  I think they surprised themselves with the length of their letters!

So, despite the fact that some people see writing a letter as a quaint, outmoded form of communication along the same line as semaphore or the telegraph (oh, man I’d love to get a telegram stop they seem so urgent and special stop), it seems that there is life in letter writing yet.  People still want to send their thoughts through the post, want to send doodles and, of course, sparkly stickers along with their news.  As I told CKPG, there will always be love letters and those love letters will probably be covered in sparkly stickers.

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