In many ways, I feel like handwriting letters is a lost form of art. Though it is much easier to send a text or email than to seek out a card, pen, and address, I think that the beauty of writing a letter lies in its deliberateness.
The writer puts time and thought into each word and punctuation. There is no delete button, so the intentionality of each stroke of the pen invites humanity to the paper. Knowing that a person wrote the letter is what makes it feel genuine. The writer is engraved into the page with each dotted “i” and crossed “t”. The letter becomes an extension of the self rather than words typed out and sent into the void.
Correspondence between two individuals is beautiful because the exchange of ideas is a form of kindness and gratitude. The sincerity and presence of both the writer and recipient are what make a letter feel personal and heartfelt. Regardless of who you send the letter to or what you put down on the page, the thought put into the action is all that matters. Only you and the reader can exist at that moment. The time and space of the page belong to individuals rather than a whole network of cyberspace.
I love how imperfect the letter is: the misspelled words, the pen smudges, and the crinkled edges of the page. I love the little folded-up drawings inside the envelope and the small sketches in the margins. I know that someone is on the other end of the paper.
Writing and receiving letters feels real and raw. That is why I love writing by hand. I see myself on the page and know that those exact words could not have been written by anyone else but me. I underline, box, and circle illegible words and draw flowers and boxes all over the borders of the page, and when I look back at my writing, I can also see my thinking. I see every incomplete thought and scattered idea, and how I arrived at a conclusion or judgment. My messy handwriting and incongruous doodles could only be produced by me.
The presence and intentionality that letter-writing requires are why receiving a letter feels so special. I love letters because the words on the page feel innately personal. I hope that handwritten letters will exist in perpetuity.
Mandy Adams ’24