A Life Loved in Letters

The joy of the handwritten letter

Reading Time: 4 minutes

One of life’s most simple pleasures is receiving a handwritten note from friends or family; it’s a luxury that is free to send but such a precious gift to receive.

How wonderful it is to be able to write someone a letter! To feel like conveying your thoughts to a person, to sit at your desk and pick up a pen, to put your thoughts into words like this is truly marvellous.

– Haruki Murakami, Norwegian Wood –

Inspiration

The year I married, I sent and received so many cards and letters; I was reminded how much it meant to see an envelope with my name handwritten on it and how much I enjoyed writing to my loved ones. The night before my wedding day my bridesmaid handed me a bundle of letters from my hens, both those who could attend my hen party and wedding and those further away, for me to read before going to sleep. Those well wishes and words of love, memories and hopes made me laugh and cry; they filled my heart with affection for them all and are letters that I will cherish always. A further thoughtful surprise was arriving home from honeymoon to a letter from my aunt, written on notepaper from our wedding venue, thanking us for a wonderful day and recounting anecdotes from the day.

Letters are a tangible connection to the people we care about. In a world that often moves too fast, where we are all so busy, sometimes it is exceptionally pleasant to slow down and put pen to paper to express to someone that we are thinking of them.

Upon discussing New Year’s resolutions at the end of last year I said that I didn’t make resolutions as such but that I had resolved to write more letters;

A dear friend and I have been sending each other postcards for a decade, ever since I moved to London. I sent her daughter her first parcel when she was born and followed up later with her first postcard. My friend has been writing letters to her since before she was born and franking them with limited edition stamps. Ahead of her daughter’s first birthday last year, my friend invited me, along with other family and friends, to write letters for her first birthday, which they read together on her birthday but which will be kept to read again once she turns eighteen. I was touched by these sweet gestures, honoured to take part, and inspired by how my friend is instilling her love for the art of letter and card writing in her child.

Letter writing e-course

Towards the end of last year I signed up for and completed the Your Beautiful Letter e-course run by Naomi Bulger, an Australian writer and illustrator. I had come across Naomi’s gorgeous Instagram feed and a friend had recommended the course.  Naomi is part of an online community of people who create beautiful letters and it is heartening to see a resurgence of letter writing to create aesthetically beautiful mail art to be posted.

My aim in completing the course was to reignite my love for regular writing as well as tap into my creativity. I thoroughly enjoyed the course and Naomi’s tips for using letters as a medium for storytelling. Life often prevents me from embracing the creative outlets that I crave but I thought that letter writing would provide calm moments where I could satisfy my need for regular writing.

A Life Loved Pen Pals

Of course with letter writing comes the requirement for people to write to. I have my aforementioned friend and her daughter but I want to write often and widely yet also be committed to doing so. Enter A Life Loved! I’ve been a member of the blog’s closed Facebook group since its inception a year ago, moving across from the sister group for Love My Dress, after outgrowing talk of weddings. This group of women have shared many an experience, good and bad, and there is no discussion that is taboo or where an animated GIF can’t be appreciated.

Upon discussing New Year’s resolutions at the end of last year I said that I didn’t make resolutions as such but that I had resolved to write more letters; one of the group members, Zoë, replied that if I wanted a pen pal then she’d be up for that and an idea was born! I suggested it to the wider group and one month later almost fifty women from the group countrywide and some from further afield have been paired up by me to write to each other. I received my first letter from Zoë last week and currently composing my reply (I was awaiting the arrival of pretty new stationery!) As an introvert, I relish the idea of making a new friend without actually having to socialise, but instead build a rapport with someone through the written word.

I am delighted that people are bonding over their love for letter writing. There’s been a shared nostalgia for having pen pals as children or the thrill of having their first at the age of forty-one. The response I received has been enthusiastic and excited, with some people keen to even write in other languages. I am intent to keep the heart of this lost art beating; if you are also one of those people that share my passion for letter writing  then please let me know in the comments.

You can follow #ALLPenPals on Instagram.

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