That’s a question I’ve asked before and I’m returning to it now because of a new book, Letters of Note: Correspondence Deserving of a Wider Audience by Shaun Usher, and reviewed in the Guardian. I particularly like Spike Milligan’s typed reply to a fan who criticised his book Monty: His Part in My Victory. (You can download a few pages of the book here.)
I have several files containing photocopies of letters sent to family and friends, which are interleaved with the originals of their correspondence with me, exchanged before I got connected to the internet. It’s a stack about a foot high, say five reams, and few have crossings out or ink blothces blotches, and none have smileys. :-7
I didn’t have a distinguished academic career at Reading University’s teacher training college, but that was of little matter to the headmaster in the inner London primary school where I started my career. Fondly remembered Charlie Noakes told me that one reason he’d offered me the job was because of my application correspondence, which is lost somewhere with my UK archives. To this day I’m not sure if he meant that my handwriting, partly based on the Marion Richardson script, was highly legible or that he’d consulted a graphologist who’d adjudged my mental state and personality to be suitably crazy to face 40 nine year olds in a cramped under-resourced environment for seven hours a day.
Maybe he liked the flow of my words, the structure of the writing, its concatenation, or that I used multisyllabic words when lots of short ones would have done. I don’t know, but ever since I’ve worked hard at my writing. And it hasn’t got any easier with the passing of time.
There are few posts here which I haven’t slaved over; although perhaps some of the accompanying wordage to my Images of the Week have less than a hour to compose, most take much longer to complete until I’m ready to publish.
However, there are several occasions when I return to edit a post, perhaps to correct a typo or spelling mistake, or to add a hyperlink. And that, for me, is one of the pleasures of the internet. I know that somewhere my musings are archived, perhaps copied verbatim and ‘shared’ or, more likely, in the mass storage systems of the NSA and GCHQ. My life is now an open e-book.
I read very few tweets, and I’m not a Facebook freak. However, rather than writing at length about my joys and worries about the state of the world I share, I do post snippets of news and links to this blog on my page. I also post gleanings about Indonesian environmental issues of concern on a specific page called rather obviously Green Indonesia.
That’s my way with writing, and I hope it doesn’t go away any time soon because I still enjoy writing letters.
Footnote 3.11.13 Apropos Stupidity:
Thanks to World Wide Words, I have just learned that “from around the last quarter of the nineteenth century, jay had been a slang term in North America for a stupid, gullible, ignorant, or provincial person, a rustic, bumpkin or simpleton.“