The Dying Art of Letter Writing

My daughter is at camp for two weeks. She’s deep in the forest, surrounded by wood nymphs and tree elves, eating gruel and getting rained on.

When I packed her I clung to the camp’s list: tent, wellies, rainwear, hiking boots, cutlery, sleeping bag, sweaters…it went on and on. And then I noticed at the end it gave me an address to which I could write.

Write? A letter?

It took me aback. I can’t remember the last time I wrote a letter. Emails, cards, Facebook missives, sure. But a real life bonafide letter? That languid chat on paper detailing life? Where you try to make your presence felt to the one you’re writing to?

I didn’t know how to begin. What could I write that would be of interest. I haven’t done anything terribly interesting these last two weeks. I’ve cleaned the house, worked on my novel, taxied her brother here and there, fed the neighbor’s cat, checked my emails a zillion times….

I stared at the bright white paper I bought to write with and yes, was suddenly struck down with writer’s block.

I was still staring woefully when the post man slipped a small white envelope through our mail slot. It was from my daughter.

“It’s really cool here,” she wrote. “We’re surrounded by hills, trees and streams. I am at the top of the hill sitting on one of the logs in our meeting circle….”

I could feel her laughter pouring out, the wind swirling her hair, and yes, even the rain dripping down her nose. She ended it with the simple but oh, so effective “I love you and miss you.”

Well, as usual, the girl had something to teach her mom: write what you know, convey your love.

So I took up my pen and began…

photo by ben.bowen (flickr)



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8 responses to “The Dying Art of Letter Writing

  1. It’s such a shame that letters are an dying art, it’s always so nice to open the letterbox when there is something else but bills in it.

  2. Hi Nina,

    Its funny but I can’t write on computer straight away. I need to write first and then I type!

    But its true and sad that the art of writing letters is dying or is almost dead. I used to write letters to my friends and funny enough I would never ever receive a single letter in return. So much so that even my little cousins don’t write letters because its boring!

    You have to agree on one thing; when you write on paper its much more spontaneous than typing away on computer 😀 (atleast its the case with me). So enjoy writing dear 😀

  3. ninakillham

    I think you’re right, Samreen, there is something very personal when you put pen to paper…I really loved doing it.

  4. ninakillham

    Hi, Lindea, yes, my kids often come home and wonder if anything came in the post for them. I laugh and tell them, well, maybe if you wrote somebody… But sadly sometimes when you do write, nothing comes back…people are just not in the habit.

  5. It’s a pity that letters becoming retro these days. I enjoy writing to friends and it’s exciting to receive replies (seldom though). I can only write on computers for business purposes like white paper marketing. For ephemeral moods, the best place to let out is paper:)

    Ryan Malone
    SmartBug Media
    An inbound marketing agency
    New report: 7 Tactics to Boosting White Paper Performance

  6. Miranda Kemp

    Hi Nina – when was Grace was away for a week-long school trip, she absolutely loved getting the letters we sent her. I’ve realised recently that I can’t actually physically write well any longer! My fingers just aren’t as fluent at it anymore – must write more letters! Mx

  7. As usual, unique “Nina Content” that I look forward to reading. Thanks for helping me see the transformational possibilities in listening to a child.

  8. Those of us who spent an eternity of a childhood and adolescence writing letters – thank you’s/required newsy ones to grand-parents/occasional notes to travelling journalist father and most of all, huge long love letters to assorted boyfriends – can be spotted still in cyberspace. Emails usually start with “Dear” and end with “send my love to the family” with the usual “PS’s” and “NB’s”.
    We’re still there!

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