An encouraging article by Robert Collins n the Sunday Times last weekend suggested that the demise of the book (as opposed to the e-book) is much over-stated. It discussed the horror of being left on holiday without anything to read when the e-book crashes, and the physical pleasures of books.
I would here like to put in a plea for another hard-copy literary form, which is the letter. Write more, and write letters, especially if you are a writer. Emails simply don't have the same impact. I've just written an email to a new friend, and it was part of an ongoing conversation, but it by no means fulfilled the same role as a letter. Any more than does this blog.
To write a letter I need to make space on my desk, and space in my day. I need a pen and paper and stamp. I need to collect my thoughts because I'm going to commit words to paper and don't want to present my reader with too many crossings out. The letters I write and receive these days are often of the thank you variety, or the how are you, or the sorry you're unwell. But it doesn't matter how banal they are, they are real gifts, a reaching through time and space, deeply personal.
Emails don't replace letters, any more than e-books can books, or DVDs films. These are all different, exciting media, and allow for different types of communication. The more of the latter the better, I say. But when I write a letter, I am pausing to think, for a moment, deeply about that other person, and find the right words. That's a very important act of affection.