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Tania is currently the Founder & Editor-in-Chief of The Hudsucker, and Senior Editor at the Nashville, Tennessee based PopCulture.com. With past writing and editing credits with Womanista, Quietly, the International Women's Media Foundation (IWMF) and NBC Newsvine, she is currently a member of Indianapolis based, Society of Professional Journalists — one of the oldest organizations in the U.S. that promotes and represents journalists. She is an avid Indianapolis Colts, Elvis Presley and baseball fan as well as a lover of pancakes and fine cheeses, film, and music. Tania is a Hoosier at heart with a passionate wanderlust for always traveling and giving back to those in her community. She is currently studying at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana. Follow Tania on Twitter: @westlifebunny.

Are Love Letters a Lost Art?

{Image Credit: Christine Glade/Getty Images}

{Image Credit: Christine Glade/Getty Images}

Call me old-fashioned, but there’s something incredibly sweet and artful about love letters. The last few years of our social platform has skyrocketed (thanks to the Internet and smartphones) in a very innovative way as mass socialization among users with texting, tweeting, and one-sentence status updates exponentially expands. These social networks have enabled minute-by-minute communication as a necessity for millions, but falls short on genuine sentiment.

With this technological realm taking the reigns of communication and interaction, the art of letter writing is becoming a distant and fading memory.

Beethoven to his “Immortal Beloved”
“Though still in bed, my thoughts go out to you, my Immortal Beloved, Be calm-love me-today-yesterday-what tearful longings for you-you-you-my life-my all-farewell. Oh continue to love me-never misjudge the most faithful heart of your beloved. Ever thine. Ever mine. Ever ours.”

If you’ve ever written a letter to a friend, a family member, or even a lover, how did you feel? Do you know how they felt after they read it? There is something incredibly satisfying, moving, personal and deeply intimate about entrusting your feelings for another onto paper. With Love Note Day taking place on September 26, there is an interesting and constant discussion behind these amorous letters. Are they romantic? Are they cheesy? Is the art of letter writing really, truly dead?

While packing up boxes and clearing out some of my belongings from my family’s basement, I found a box of letters my father had sent to my mother while he was away for work during the early 80’s. On her own and raising two kids, my parents would send each other letters every other week. The ink on these letters written by my father to my mother were runny, the paper was yellowing and wilted, but the sentiment remained. When I showed them to my mother, a smile beamed across her face. “He always had such a way with words,” she said.

I had a chance to sit down and read these letters, and they made me a little envious. They made me wish I could have something this important to hold onto. These letters had a great permanence to them; a deep meaning, and from the look on my mother’s face, still meant something to her till this day.

While texting gives us a channel ideally suited for sending and receiving small doses of information, the beauty of letter writing is that these handwritten letters can convey something so much more than conversation can. Handwritten letters take time, with each word carefully chosen with no “Ctrl + Z” to retreat on, or auto-correct picking the “right” word for you. Writing a letter reveals something about your personality that a tweet or a Facebook status can’t. It comes down to the paper, the style of handwriting, and ink that defines who you are to the reader. Drafting a letter involves choice and time, and a deep investment. You wouldn’t write a letter to just anybody, right? That person who opens up the envelope means something to the writer. In a world where so much of communicating involves technology, a simple act of investing time into a writing a letter not only can bring you gratitude and remembrance, but show those that matter to you how important they truly are.

Ronald Reagan to Nancy Reagan 
“The important thing is I don’t want to be without you for the next 20 years, or 40, or however many there are. I’ve gotten very used to being happy and I love you very much indeed.”

Writing a letter and sending it is simply the next best thing to literally showing up at someone’s door. This tangible envelope that will travel far and wide contains heart and thought, and above all else, doses of yourself best conveyed in sincere handwriting.

This past summer, it was reported that mega-couple, Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt wrote each other love letters while filming their separate World War II themed films on opposite sides of the world. Jolie admitted to Australia’s TV Week that when writing handwritten letters to each other, she and her husband were not only feeling connected, but the act of writing to one another made them both think of those that had been separated for months, if not years at a time back then. Jolie goes on to saying, “He [Brad] was supportive from a distance and it was quite romantic in a way.”

Romantic is right. Many don’t realize, but you can fall in love through words. After all, isn’t poetry one of the world’s leading romantic gestures? Words, when chosen carefully, can have great power. In an article by CNN, it’s observed through case studies that potential lovers exchanging words via letters (and emails) tend to overlook superficial turnoffs, thus opening up to each other faster and more deeply through the written word. Falling in love with one another through letters has been happening for centuries, but the online medium has sped it up.

While some say letter writing is a fading art form, email writing comes close. It’s true. Now I’m an email fiend. I’m the type of person who will send her best friend an email every month with hopes to keep those channels of communication and friendship open, while we are living our lives apart.

{Image Credit: Warner Brothers Pictures}

Over the years, films like The Shop Around The Corner or You’ve Got Mail glorified the beauty behind letter and email writing. In the 1940 Jimmy Stewart classic, Stewart’s character Alfred Kralik exchanges letters to his pen-pal, with the two discussing life, love, and culture. This premise was later seen in Nora Ephron’s 1998 romantic comedy, You’ve Got Mail with Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks exchanging IDs in a chat-room and soon becoming friends, communicating via AOL Email.

Exchanging letters (and emails) between lovers isn’t just for the movies though. Take for example, actress Jennifer Garner. Though she admits her husband Ben Affleck and her were just friends before getting married in 2005, the two of them continued communication via email as his relationship to Jennifer Lopez ended and hers to Scott Foley was ending. In an interview with Parade from 2010, Garner said her husband was a “very good” and “persuasive writer”.

In the case of romantic comedies though, love grew from the mere exchange of words. In You’ve Got Mail, Hanks and Ryan’s characters gradually blossomed into lovers discussing the very same topics and subjects Stewart’s character and Margaret Sullavan’s covered in their black and white film from nearly 60 years earlier.

But there’s nothing’s black and white about it. Letter writing is a colorful subject and shows a multitude of life and personality through language. Whether you’re writing letters or emails, by crafting words for someone, you’re forming a long lasting relationship of the minds and allowing yourself to be more intimate and informal. You’re building a relationship of like interests through words and showing a bit of your heart in each and every line. Email or letters, the sincerity remains the same. In that regard, online relationships are just an upgraded version of the writing-based relationship. That sort of psychology proves that communication is key in both mediums. With a relationship emphasizing on communication, it urges participants to not just deepen their trust and commitment, but their scope of mutual interests.

Napolean Bonaparte to Josephine
“Since I left you, I have been constantly depressed. My happiness is to be near you. Incessantly I live over in my memory your caresses, your tears, your affectionate solicitude.”

I’m in all favor of letter writing. It is a lost art, but it won’t ever really be replaced by technology unless mail delivery stops entirely. That being said, writing a letter carries intent, especially when gifted from person to person. Taking time to write something is incredibly sweet and warm, and definitely brings out the positive in what life is all about. However, a “snail-mail” relationship is a little slower as you can’t promptly speak your mind.  Get the envelope, the stamp, drop it off in the post box and then wait. Keep waiting.

If you’re really strapped for time, know that there is nothing wrong with a heartfelt, lengthy email. What matters is the time you take to sit down and compose your thoughts and emotions for someone you deeply care for. Letters in any shape or form have the power to create an amazing and special bond that helps hold a relationship together. Without communication, there is nothing. It’s really dependent on you. When you take the time to write something, purge your feelings onto paper or a keyboard, an unforgettable connection is formed between two like minds—two lovers—and they really do stand out in the mind of a grateful heart.

No matter how you write a love letter, through email or on fancy paper, just know that Rome wasn’t built in a day. Your love letter may not be perfect. It may not be Shakespeare. It may not be Keats. Just know that as long as it comes from you and you alone, that sincerity and genuine heart you craft into words means a lot to the person receiving it.

And in affairs of the heart, that’s all that really matters.

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2 Comments on “Are Love Letters a Lost Art?”

  1. Writing Suzanne October 26, 2014 at 6:00 pm #

    Love letters are a very romantic and sweet way of communicating – lets try and bring hand-written letters back into fashion ;)

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