I am an ardent fan of Downton Abbey as are millions of others around the world. And there are posts about it ALL OVER the internet from fans of this jewel of a series.
I am besotted with the genius that is Julian Fellowes who created and writes and produces Downton Abbey. He gives us the ability to be voyuers in to another era like we are peeking from behind pillars or around the corner in a hallway or from outside the window.
I am convinced I must have lived in that era in another life - I've always thought I was British in another life anyway. (felt that since childhood but I cannot tell you exactly why) Perhaps I dwelled downstairs in service or perhaps I was born to the Aristocracy......or perhaps I was a farmers wife...........of this I do not know. All I know is I have always been drawn in a very inexplicable way to all things period British. So Downton Abbey from the moment the opening credits began in Season 1 took me and kept me in its grasp.
And ohhh the costumes......talk about besotted. There is so much I have to say about this period drama series, but will save it for another post.
I do have 3 books on order (you can click each one to read about them) with more I plan to get. I am fully immersing myself like a mad woman.
Downton Abbey has brought up something else for me though so that is what I want to post about today. And that is the lost art of letter writing. I think it's time we bring it back.
In this electronic age our personal correspondence is carried out in a most impersonal way. Emails, texts, Social Media.........all of it has taken away the idea of sitting down to write in personal hand. We are used to the delete button and spell check and no need for pen to paper in this way. And yes there is the cell phone and the landline which of course carries a more personal means of communication......yet even with those means we have all succombed to typing a quick something, using abbreviations and hitting SEND. All very fine but sometimes, just sometimes there is something quite wonderful to open ones mailbox and find among the adverts, bills and general junk..........a hand written LETTER.
You may argue that using electronic means to communicate aleviates the need for paper that is made from trees and all that. We are always trying to find ways to be as paperless as possible and I get that. And when posting a letter to outside of ones own country can be a bit of wait. BUT I still feel strongly the art of letter writing is so much more personal. It means you took the time and effort to sit pen in hand and write to someone about anything and everything. You can even include a little illustration. Perhaps a favorite quote. Perhaps all your secrets.
Perhaps you are traveling.........instead of email why not take a moment to write a personal post card or small letter recounting your travels and experience. How wonderful to get mail with a postmark from another state or country. So much more personal than a dashed off email (though I do not advocate eradicating the use of email of course)
Maybe purchase some fine plain stationery or one carrying your initials or monogram or some such thing to write your letter on. Write with a traditional fountain pen or a dip pen in a bottle of ink if you choose. (that is my chosen means) Use your best cursive instead of printing......even if you feel it may not be your strong suit. The idea is to bring this lost art back even in a small way. Seal the envelope with a wax seal for affect. You don't see that anymore. It doesn't have to be fancy by any means, you could simply write in a card or on note paper.
It does not have to be a lengthy tome either, it could simply be but a few lines to let someone you care about know you've taken this time to STOP and write them a handwritten note. How surprised would they be to open the mailbox and see something so personal and welcoming? As I am sure you would be. I know I certainly would be.
And then there is the art of "play" using handwritten letters. Oh this is fun! You may want to try it yourself.
A friend and I live in different states (we know each other through blogging and lengthy phone calls yet we have never met face to face) and because we are both drawn to what I have been talking about here....have decided to start a correspondence. BUT the twist is that we won't be writing as ourselves or in this modern era of 2013. We will, however, be writing as a character of our own creation set in the Edwardian era of England. These characters will, of course, have names and each of us will be responsible for creating a bit of a backstory prior to beginning. This way we aren't writing with confusion as to who the other person is. I am thrilled about this because I love the art of using ones imagination coupled with the written word - forcing you to "act it all out" to keep it fresh and semi-authentic. (but not rigidly authentic). We have agreed to not speak of or discuss the letters or characters in our phone conversations to keep it strictly in character letter to letter. It is a great exercise in having to sit and really think about what it is you want to say, how you want to say it keeping in character. The added thrill will be the anticipated letters and responding in kind......post box to post box. I will not post anything about my character or hers (or even who she is in real life) or post the letters on my blog........we want to keep this as it would be....for our eyes only. But who knows, there may come a time we do blog about it at a later date. You may want to try this with someone you know for some fun.
For now, just think about it. Think about putting your hands on a pen instead of a keyboard once in a while when writing to a friend or a relative. Teach your children the art of writing/sending 'thank you' notes when they are able. In fact, teach your children how to write properly anyway so that they are not so ensconced in electronic devices they forget there is another way to correspond with someone. Not everyone has access to email. Maybe start with writing a grandparent. Just a thought.
I will leave you with this quote from the New York Times by Catherine Field (a journalist based in Paris) from Feb. 2011 that I found after I wrote this post: (I am not the only one who feels the beauty of a handwritten letter should not be lost)
A good handwritten letter is a creative act, and not just because it is a visual and tactile pleasure. It is a deliberate act of exposure, a form of vulnerability, because handwriting opens a window on the soul in a way that cyber communication can never do. You savor their arrival and later take care to place them in a box for safe keeping.
Yes, e-mail is a wonderful invention. It links people across the world, destroying in an instant the hurdle of geography that confronts snail mail. Yet it is by its nature ephemeral and lacks the spark of character that only handwriting can provide. When you get an e-mail, you can never be sure that you are the only recipient — or even that it’s original.
Have a wonderful week and please, consider sending someone you know a letter out of the blue. You won't regret it!!