Archive for the ‘Mail’ Tag

Night Mail

This is the night mail crossing the Border,
Bringing the cheque and the postal order,
Letters for the rich, letters for the poor,
The shop at the corner, the girl next door.
Pulling up Beattock, a steady climb:
The gradient’s against her, but she’s on time.

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The Joys of Writing by Hand

Did I ever say this blog was going to be exclusively about Second Life (grin)?  Since I’m knocked out of Second Life until I get my main computer fixed, and Linden Lab hasn’t made any policy moves lately that have the Grid in an uproar, why not do a little more personal writing, as the spirit moves me?  (At least if I can get used to this laptop’s keyboard [mumble mumble growl….].)  This won’t necessarily be about Second Life or any other aspect of the digital world, though this can be a way for me to reconnect with some of the many blogs I’ve kept in my sidebar for a long, long time. 

For today, though, a piece of writing…about writing.

How many people remember the book (not the movie) The Postman, by David Brin?  The main point of the book, stripping away the apocalyptic setting and the battle between supermen at the end, was how people could connect, and reconnect, and reunite, by the simple act of communication with each other.  And, when our modern forms of technology finally fail us, there is still one that could get through:  the written word.  The lead character is a drifter who’s simply trying to stay alive in a post-apocalyptic world, when he stumbles across an old mail Jeep, with the body of a dead postman inside.  He takes the fellow’s jacket to stay warm, and also some of the letters, planning to use them to acquire food and shelter along the way.  But as he goes on, and delivers the letters to people still alive, what starts as a survival ploy becomes more, resulting in a re-integration of community in the region he is walking through.  The simple act of communication draws people together, in a way that even the worst disaster can’t overcome.  And it isn’t by E-mail, or fax, or telephone, for those forms of communication have disappeared; but by words written with a pen or pencil on a piece of paper.  What served our ancestors, and even our parents or grandparents, helps to bring people together, and perhaps to start rebuilding a nation and a world.

My generation is probably one of the last to regard longhand cursive handwriting  as a valid method of expressing thoughts, unless some sort of smash or philosophical change comes along.  I used to write this blog in longhand before transcribing it into the software, and I still write fiction that way.  Most professional authors, such as David Gerrold, would despair of me; others, such as Dickens or Shelby Foote, would have applauded me for my dedication to the ancient tools of the profession.  And I still write fiction with a pen to this day, scribbling at loose points such as lunch and break time in ecosystem or Moleskine notebooks, or whatever I have at hand at the moment.  I don’t need to do it this way; I can write by typing, as I’m doing at this moment.  But my writing seems so much better, and more productive, when I’m doing it in longhand.  (It’s also kept my handwriting skills in trim; unless I’m in a hurry, or writing my signature, my cursive is still quite legible.)

But it doesn’t have to be “important” writing to justify breaking out your pen or pencil.  You don’t even have to write quantities in order to justify the act; why not just write a simple note to a friend or loved one?  Use a Bic pen and a piece of loose-leaf paper, and send them a little letter, and send it by post instead of by E-mail.  And take your time about it; slow down a little, instead of being locked in the world of fast-moving electrons or hustle-and-bustle.  Think about your words, and what you’re really trying to say.  When you’re doing something like this, you’re not on a deadline; the only deadline is expressing what you want to say, clearly and accurately.  You may find, especially as you get older, that you enjoy it quite a bit.

Harper's signature

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