Saturday, April 4, 2009

Starting a Magazine

It is my dream to start a magazine on letter writing and journal writing. It will be called Letters & Journals (imagine those words in over-sized script font). It will be all about letter writing today, the history of letter writing, the future of letter writing, all kinds of journal writing, to do lists, books on letter collections and books on letter writing, profiles of letter writers (famous and not famous), mail art, penpals, stationery stores, stationery products, blogging, using art in journals, fan mail, the Christmas letter, circle journals, postcards, stamps and so much more.

Curious about the state of letters in the technology of the 21st century, I decided to do my master's thesis on the history of letter writing. While doing this I came across hundreds of articles about the lost art of letter writing. Who were all of these people as enchanted by letters as I am that they missed them and bemoaned their loss?

One of the most intriguing finds in my research was this quote from a book on letter writing called The Lost Art that was written by Dorothy Van Doren in 1929:

It is often said that the days of the great letter writers are over. The typewriter has done away with the pen; a machine age, which was to have provided leisure, demands more hours in service to it than did the time of hand crafts and long working days. The motion picture, the radio, the motor car, the washing machine are jealous masters. We telegraph now instead of writing letters, and when we neglect to telegraph there is always the long distance telephone.

So it's been 80 years that we have been calling it the Lost Art? When was it lost? Where did it go?

I think it's better to think of it as an evolution. We don't send letters by the morning and afternoon post announcing our intention to call on friends and relatives like we did 100 years ago. We don't send children in the mail like we did in 1913. Yet some things are the same. We still send fan mail to celebrities, we still mail letters to armed service personnel, we write to relatives and friends, penpals, politicians, etc.

Granted, not everybody writes letters. But that has always been the case, so it's nothing new now. There is no argument that email, social networking and cell phones have removed much of the need for personal letters and yet they persist. I think that's a good thing. A wonderful thing~ this persistence of the noble letter.

My plan for this blog is to outline my vision and progress as I move closer to making my dream for this magazine a reality. I will add links to blogs and interesting articles on these subjects and I hope that anybody reading this will send me anything of interest that they may find in their day to day travels in their neighborhood or the world at large.

I can be reached at


365 Letters said...

It's amazing to me, now that I've started my 365 Letters project and the blog, how many references to letter writing that I see now. Almost daily, I see a TV-news segment that mentions letters, or I hear an NPR story that somehow has to do with letter writing.

Good luck with your magazine! I'll be checking back often to see how it's coming along.

The Missive Maven said...

I definitely think letter-writing is undergoing a renaissance, if not just a passing breeze of hip-ness, right now. I've been doing it consistently since I was a kid (yeah, those were pre-internet days), but it seems more folks are game these days. I will say that the internet helps - I've gotten a lot of correspondents this way. And I've found your blog! Part of me says, why not do this on a blog? But I appreciate the beauty of paper. I have no idea what the financial burden would be for such a commitment, but I laud your efforts and I'll be watching to see how it goes!

(Meantime, check out my letter-writing blog, The Missive Maven. Sorry... shameless plug. :)

The Missive Maven said...

And now I am humbled - you've already got my blog in your blog list! Thanks much!
(Guess I oughta read newer posts before commenting, eh?)