Pen and Paper

Recently, I have had many friends take a leave of absence from our normal communication routines. Whether it is travel, school, work, or something else, it is nice to be able to stay in touch. While I have Skype for some, twitter, facebook, Google Plus, or IM for others, nothing beats a good old fashioned snail-mail letter. I know, I know, low tech, but before you shun me, let me make my point.

When I wrote out my first draft correspondence, it was awkward and messy. I had to think harder, to write too much and then edit it down to fit in an envelope. I had to better word my feelings than ‘lol’ or ‘smh’. And much like sealing a manuscript into a manilla envelope and wishing for the best, writing that address on the outside of the envelope and attaching a stamp became an unexpected emotional ordeal. This was a piece of my heart I was sending on it’s merry way, each word carefully thought out. How would the other person receive it?

Just like signing my name and sealing the envelope on my words gave me a sense of trepidation, and simultaneously relief and exultation, so does finishing and submitting a story on here. Once I publish it, it is out there. Once I mail it, the letter is out of my hands.

I was surprised at the intimacy I felt in penning my letter, more than a chat window, much like a phone call. This is what makes ficly tick, the family atmosphere, the intimacy gained when we put our hearts and brain children out there for display, for discern and what makes us fall in love with the site.

But how many of you have penned a ficly before you typed it? There is a distance sometimes between our keyboard and our heart. Something in the processing of the letters into dark bytes of information that appear on the screen which are so easily backspaced into oblivion keeps our hearts guarded from the raw emotions underneath. I don’t know why it works, but using the fine motor movements to twirl ink onto paper does something for our brains. Sure, it works sometimes, our hearts flow into our typed words with reckless abandon, but too often we become someone else when we type.

My challenge to you this week is to put pen or pencil to paper before you open your browser tab or window and put fingertips to keys. Try some journaling, brainstorming, poetry, or flash fiction in a good old-fashioned spiral bound or composition notebook. Smell the pages, feel the ink, make the words flow and maybe the tears run. See what comes out. Perhaps it will be the best ficly you will never, i mean ever share.


  • The Fantastic Mister Fish

    AWESOME BLOG POST!!!!! 5 stars!

  • ElshaHawk (LoA)

    thanks, Fish, for inspiring and proofing this post. :)

  • Tad Winslow

    It’s sad that the US postal service is nearly bankrupt. I submit poems via snail mail. You’re right, it really is a labor of love to have to choose the bald eagle stamp or the Rocky Balboa one. Though, what I stuff in the envelopes is typed. It’s odd that publishers view long hand submissions warily. It’s almost taboo now, and considered unprofessional. I write the beginnings to stories or poems on paper, but if I like where they’re going I never continue before switching over to the computer. After reading this I feel inspired to try, and maybe stun someone with an actual letter!

  • 32 ^2

    Paper + Ink + pen + hand + arm + shoulder + spinal chord + brain = an unbroken chain. I miss people telling me “You have beautiful writing”, my partner just told me that the other day too.

    Recently, I sent a letter to one of my Aunts after her and I had a long discussion about the dying art of letter writing. I was disappointed after she emailed me asking me to type it out and resend it……did she seriously think I had a copy of it?

    I’ve entered a few letter writing contests and enjoy the writing part most, it’s relaxing, I don’t have to “save” it, or have all of these other distractions “popping up” telling me it’s time to update my current situation.

    I never thought I would say something like this, but “I’m off to find a #2 and a slice of brilliant white!”

  • Krulltar

    it’s hard to doodle or scribble while writing on the computer. Because I love the smell and texture of paper, I have hundreds of sheets scattered around my computer desk with doodles and notes. Also, I got a Kindle last Christmas and only read 4 books on it so far, but I’ve read over 20 paperback/hardback books during that time.

    My father passed away 18 months ago, and over the last year or so, I’ve help my mom got through alot of their stuff. It’s amazing I found 40 year old letters that my dad wrote to my sisters and brothers when He was stationed in the Philippines. I also found a few letters him and my mom wrote to each other when they were separated, and almost got divorced before I was born. I reminded me of the mom and dad I remember growing up. So, if anything, write for posterity’s sake.

  • THX 0477

    Lovely and heartfelt post. Pros and cons to each format, but this very sweetly illucidates and reminds us of the unique joys of writing it out by hand.

  • Miles Letham

    It’s hard to pull away from the computer and the ease of editing it provides, but it’s very true that there’s something special about writing on paper. My favorite way to write has always been with a Fisher Space Pen and a dime-a-dozen Composition notebook. But… I rarely write like that anymore. I’ve got a stack of empty notebooks labeled with the titles of stories I’ve never written.

    I miss having my fingers stained with ink.

  • Schnappi

    I always keep a notebook in my bag and paper within reach. I keep journals when I travel and write snippets in longhand when they occur to me. But, oh, if only I could read my handwriting! ;)