writing

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In search of (a pen)
The lost art of letter writing

One of my favorite shows as a kid …

Was the Leonard Nemoy hosted In Search Of.

Has letter writing gone the way of Bigfoot?

What attracted me to it was a couple of things. First were the topics. Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster, the Holy Grail … what was not to like. They fired my imagination as a kid as much as I look back on them and laugh a little today. There was also the documentary style. For the times, it blended truth with fiction and speculation and a willingness to believe that the world held secrets that, if only we searched harder, we might yet find. Or maybe it was they mystery most of all. How the legend was born, why it lived on, and what the future might hold. Other reasons I liked the show? There was the opening music, Leonard Nemoy’s trusted voice, and how it presented just enough to leave you wanting to explore more. No, I’ve never seen Bigfoot, but during my visit to Northern California, I wasn’t so much looking for the creature as I was thinking about the show.

Which brings me to a new idea if the the series ever gets renewed: I would like to introduce the concept of the Lost Art of Letter Writing as a topic worthy of being told. Does anybody remember the halcyon days of writing handwritten notes to family and friends? It was a completely organic and original form of communication that we unwittingly left behind. Why? Email was touted as being the technology that would take letter writing to the next level. Thirty years later, I’m not convinced that email wasn’t the death knell for the golden age of the epistle.

And by epistle, I mean the real handwritten thing. Not the typed version that ends up unread and unanswered in an email box. Okay, I’ll admit – I’m probably sounding like a Luddite. But can we all just agree to give good old fashioned letter writing another chance?

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Factoid: László Bíró invented the first ballpoint pen in 1938. His invention coupled ink-viscosity with a ball-socket mechanism which acted compatibly to prevent ink from drying inside the reservoir while allowing controlled flow.

Second Drafts
And why the third settles it

The secret of the second draft?

Answer: You probably need a third.

First draft (sort of rough)

Second draft (getting better)

Third draft (audio version)

At least that’s the case with lyrics. And the untold story of the first draft is that it may have very well been preceded with an audio dictation. Really, writing is about getting your thoughts down, and refining. You know a draft is really coming to shape when the words on the paper talk back to you and tell you what to change, or what needs to be added, shortened or otherwise rearranged. People often mistake writing as a product. And just to be clear it is most definitely that, but more even more so and most of all it’s a process. Some may even say an art.

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Quotable: “You might not write well every day, but you can always edit a bad page. You can’t edit a blank page.” — Jodi Picoult