I wrote last year about getting a Visconti fountain pen upon retirement – you can see it an other writing sticks in my desk drawer if you dial back to the second of August, 2017. It is going strong and I am on to my second bottle of ink.
It might seem a little strange in these days of cheap telephone plans, emails, and texts to persist in using this archaic form of communication. Worse still – it seems to be exorbitant; the cost of envelopes, paper, ink, and postage is superadded to that of the pen. Postage these days is $ 1.00 for a standard letter within Australia and a $ Zillion outside of the country. Delivery times can range from 3-4 days to two weeks as postal services are pinched.
Why write at all?
a. People need to hear from you. They need to hear from you alone – not a captured message that goes out over a social media site. That’s like general radio broadcast to the troops – it can only ever be couched in the most diffuse terms. When you write a personal letter to a personal person…they get an impact of communication that far outweighs any text on a screen.
b. Writing shows committment. It might be good committment or bad committment but it is real and demonstrable. For the period of time that was required to write it and the period required to read it, attention is focused upon the persons involved.
c. Handwriting as opposed to keyboard writing shows the most commitment of all. It can also be the most time-consuming, and this is a very good thing.
Say what? How could something that takes up valuable time be better?
If you are carefully writing – shaping your letters and keeping to a style – you are taking time to actually think what goes down on the paper. Your thoughts will go faster than your fingers and in most cases the best phrasing will come to you before the ink hits. I won’t say that you have less chance of making a goose of yourself, but at least it will be a complete and rounded goose.
The effort of writing can also trim down the amount you express – fulsome compliments and fatuous statements tire out the writer as much as the reader and eventually they will be discarded. You’ll get down the meat of the thing. If it is roasted goose, that is another matter…
You can pause in writing far more easily than with a telephone conversation – you can do other things in a rest interval and if you have better thoughts than you first wrote, you can throw away a page and replace them – can’t do that with a phone call. Once something is said it is out there, for good or ill.
I do not favour expensive papers or overblown envelopes – the standard copy paper and DL envelope is fine. Anything more is theatre and can detract from the actual writing. Do test out your combination of ink and paper first, though as some are so absorbent as to empty the pen too quickly and some too slick – they smudge.
Final advice: You do not need to invent an artistic signature. Use you own free hand and make it legible. Do something that you can do again.