Monday, September 29, 2014

Letters for All Occasions

If you've been reading this blog for long, you already know that I love to write. I've exchanged handwritten letters with many of you (Kathy, Amanda, allenwoodhaven, and Andrea, among others) as my way of keeping the art of letter-writing alive.

Of course, not everybody likes to write letters any more, and our schools are too busy teaching students to pass standardized tests to teach the joy of communicating in writing. This is most unfortunate, not only because personal letters can convey information to family and friends in a uniquely intimate way, but because we often need to be able to write letters to achieve specific results in life ... cover letters for resumes we hope will get us jobs, letters seeking restitution for some wrong, and letters expressing our opinions to our elected reprehensives*, among others. Very few people nowadays know how to craft a letter to achieve a desired result.

But help is at hand, retro though it may be.

Back in July, my son Matt sent me a link to Frost's Original Letter-Writer, published in 1867 and described in its introductory pages as "A Complete Collection of Original Letters and Notes upon Every Imaginable Subject of Every-day Life, with Plain Directions about Everything Connected with Writing a Letter."

This book includes some 300 sample letters on many useful subjects, including (really!) the following:

- Letter introducing a young musician to a lady friend;

- Letter of complaint for imperfect goods;

- Letter requesting delay in the payment of rent;

- Letter answering an advertisement for a milliner;

- Letter declining to recommend a cook;

- Letter congratulating a friend on the unexpected return of a son supposed to be dead;

- Letter from a lady to a gentleman accusing him of inconstancy and demanding the return of her letters; and,

- Letter advising a young lady to discourage the visits of a suitor.

With the assistance of this useful book, even Mike might finally be able to write me the letter he still owes me. Stranger things have happened.

Have a good day. Want a letter? I'll write you one. E-mail me your snail-mail address and I'll send you your very own handwritten letter ... as long as you promise to send me one in return.

More thoughts tomorrow.


* Such letters are much more likely to result in positive action when accompanied by a large financial enclosure. Content of the missive itself is less important.


eViL pOp TaRt said...

Oh my gosh! You're supposed to write a letter to a guy accusing him of inconstancy and request returning your letters?

Nowadays, do some people request a return of naughty pictures?

Gonzo Dave said...

I commonly send handwritten thank-you notes, but any other physical communication is likely to be typed and printed out because my handwriting isn't all that good.

Linda Kay said...

I love to write...and I can't believe that cursive is now a thing of the past in the schools. There's no hope now of reviving the letter-writing. You're on!

Meredith said...

Geneseo, NY will wonder why there's hysterical laughter when I hand-write a letter requesting delay in the payment of the rent.

Mike said...

When you were writing in the first paragraph, I thought you had forgotten about me. Well no, no you didn't. I got my own paragraph.

And I haven't forgotten. I might even have to find your letter with your address and do something about it. Now, where did I put that thing.

Elvis Wearing a Bra on His Head said...

This sort of book could have utility nowadays as well.