Have you written a letter lately? I don’t mean shooting off an email or printing off a page or two from your computer.
I mean sitting down the old-fashioned way and taking pen to paper. I know some of you out there in readerland do, in fact, remember how to write, but unfortunately, I’m certainly not one of you.
However, I did recently attempt a nice, long letter in what we used to call longhand, which probably has nothing to do with the length of your fingers. It was not pretty.
Up until then, the only manual, non-keyboard-type writing I had regularly done was to scribble out my daily to-do list, on account of I always forget what I’m supposed to be doing as soon as I get up from the table.
Problem is, I can’t seem to write anything I or anybody else can actually read.
So I’d be standing in the middle of Canadian Tire or Walmart staring at a little piece of torn paper, which either says, “Buy some socks” or “Get some sandpaper.”
And just to be safe, I would arrive home with socks I don’t need and sandpaper I don’t want, and a Better Half shaking her head at me because the note actually said, “Bring home some milk.”
So for some reason, perhaps suggesting a tendency toward misery, I decided I would write a handwritten letter.
I was sending one of my books to a publisher, and because this particular publisher specialized in unusual and amusing books, I thought it would be unusual and amusing to handwrite the cover letter.
Again, not pretty.
First of all, unless you are a thoughtful person of a certain age, you probably don’t have nice writing paper. I know I don’t.
So I yank a couple of sheets of plain white paper from my computer printer. This means anything I write will be poorly spaced, annoyingly crooked and look like a chicken stepped in a pool of ink and strutted all over the page.
Second: Do I use my favourite good luck disposable fountain pen, which is mostly a prop on my desk, or do I opt for a regular, boring old ballpoint from the kitchen drawer? I decided to go for broke with the fountain pen. Another big mistake. It leaks.
Third: How the heck can you spellcheck handwriting? Then I remember: it’s called a dictionary, and I’m much too lazy for that much work.
Fourth: Who knew longhand could be so painful? After about five messy lines, my hand had already started to cramp. By the time I was finished the two-pager, I was ready for a Tylenol 3 and a nap.
And finally, snail mail. Anything you send in an old-fashioned paper container (for younger readers, it’s called an “envelope”) by putting it in that big box at the end of the street (a “mailbox”) won’t get to its destination until man lands on Mars.
But I was OK with that, and the fact my letter was essentially an unreadable blob from the Incomprehensible School of Modern Art, so I sent it anyway.
I don’t expect a reply.
But I would love to hear from you, dear readers. I very much enjoy receiving letters, emails, drawings, priceless art, etc., either in the mail or otherwise.
And I always write back. Of course, unless it’s an email, it will no doubt be illlegbal unintellligbll indeciferable, um, a hot mess. You probably won’t be able to read a word of it.
Which is not necessarily a bad thing.
Harley Hay is a Red Deer author and filmmaker. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.