Letter Writing in Modern Times

Emily's letter envelope
Addressed envelope all ready to go, with the origami windmill

When the letter from Emma Claire arrived last week, I brewed myself a pot of tea and sat down in an armchair to read it again.

I’d already sneaked a look at its contents on-line, when Emma Claire posted images of its eight pages here, but a postal delivery of this kind is such a rarity these days that I wanted to make more of an occasion of it, away from my computer screen.

What struck me as I sat there, the paper bending and rustling between my fingers, was how rewarding it can be to give your full attention to a letter. Time seems to slow as you focus only on your friend’s voice in your head. It’s a different sort of experience from opening an email on a busy day, when you find yourself painfully aware, even as you read, of the dozens of other messages building up in your inbox.

Prior to hearing from Emma Claire, I had already started jotting ideas in my notebook about things I wanted to discuss with her. These included:

  • Memories of our time in Japan, and how it kick-started our writing
  • Some things I admire about her prose style
  • Recurrent themes I’ve noticed in her work
  • Her influence on me as a writer
  • The Persephone Book of Short Stories, which I planned to recommend

Not all of these things made it into my reply. Influenced by the issues Emma Claire raised in her own letter, I found that I wanted to discuss some of them in more detail instead.

I ended up talking about the many ways in which I value her friendship, about memory itself, the similarities and differences in how each of our minds had preserved important recollections, and how I hoped we would correspond like this again. I also told Emma Claire about an earlier letter she once wrote to me, which I read again a few days ago, and the images of the past it immediately brought back.

I was inspired by the beauty of the stationery Emma Claire sourced, but was unable to find anything I liked as much myself. And so I took some plain sheets and decorated them with strips of coloured origami paper – something that seemed apt, considering how our time in Japan featured heavily in both of our letters

From one of the leftover scraps, I made a simple miniature windmill and added it to the envelope. If you are interested in having a go at this origami yourself, instructions can be found here.

As Emma Claire did in her last post, I’ve included pictures of the pages I wrote, which you can click and zoom in on below.

Emily's letter 1 Emily's letter 2Emily's letter 3Emily's letter 4

Emily's letter 5Emily's letter 6Emily's letter 7

Don’t forget

We’d love for you to join us in this activity by writing a letter of your own to a friend. Please use the ‘Leave a Reply’ facility below to let us know about the kinds of things you wrote in your letters.

Click here to find out about this month’s challenge in more detail.