One of my favourite writers, Jon McGregor, loves letters. Which of course endears him to me even more. (He also likes brunch, and we got to brunch together when I was love lettering in Nottingham a few years ago…I still dream of that bacon…).
“People really do like having something to hold,” he wrote in a recent article about letter writing in The Guardian. Yes! YES! And as I kept reading, I realized this article is as close to a letter-writing manifesto as I have ever come across. You can read the whole thing here, but here are some of my favourite gems:
“A letter, by contrast, always arrives from the past. There is a waiting – a forced patience – built into the mechanics. You wait for a letter to arrive. You wait for a reply. In the time it takes for the letter to reach its destination, anything can happen: minds be changed, lives lost, loves discovered.”
“There is an astonishing wealth of information on the devices we carry around with us – a wealth that should be celebrated – but it can be difficult to concentrate on one piece of information at a time; to read a single article or book with the kind of deep, measured concentration that seems to come more naturally with print.”
And Jon’s love of letters extends beyond penning missives to chums. He started the Letters Page, a literary journal out of the University of Nottingham. In his words:
…I wanted it to be a literary journal that could find an underhand way of being literary; to take the self-consciousness out of being literary. I’ve always been interested in the kinds of writing people do when they don’t think they’re being asked To Write, and I’d been thinking about letters as a form; wondering about the differences between letters-on-paper and emails, reflecting on my own letter-writing history, noticing the democracy of correspondence as a literary practice. So the idea was born.
Letters, handwriting, in print and online…Check it out, it truly is a wonder.