Monday, March 23, 2015

Word of the Week - 55

"I once sent a dozen of my friends a telegram saying 'flee at once - all is discovered.' They all left town immediately."
--Mark Twain
also attributed to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Note sent by Ty Cobb.

Word of the Week: MISSIVE

I'm sticking with the pre-computer definition of missive as a frequently handwritten note or bit of communication, not an email or text.  As wildly passionate as I am about typewriters, I suppose it is my own narrow thinking that seeks penmanship.  We can leave the debate open on that.  Dictionaries differ on the content of a missive - some say lengthy , others say brief, urgent - and remain, shall we say, flexible about the handwritten requirement.

Picture the cardboard rectangle that arrives with a bouquet of flowers or a tiny folded card with room for just a few meaningful words.  These are mementos to be saved, perhaps even glued into a baby book.


On the occasion of her birthday this past week, an artist friend shared a handwritten note from her father, telling her of his feelings on the day she was born.  Reading it made me wish, as do many things, that I'd saved every loving, cheering missive I'd ever received.  To have not just the good wishes or sincere feelings of those we've loved but their distinctive handwriting as well, what a treasure.

Asking myself why, with such a fondness for pens and papers, I send so few pieces of real snail mail, I have only one answer.  Inertia.  I am a reasonable email correspondent or sender of Facebook messages.  A letter IS a letter.  Electronics do not render it invalid or inferior.  Still.

As proof that I am not the only one presently concerned with missives and their importance in our lives, here are some projects and/or products that are able defense witnesses.

At Letters of Note editor Shaun Usher is at work on Volume II of collected correspondence.   Among the "most fascinating" letters on the blog is this, excerpted, from John Steinbeck to his eldest son:

"If you love someone—there is no possible harm in saying so—only you must remember that some people are very shy and sometimes the saying must take that shyness into consideration.

Girls have a way of knowing or feeling what you feel, but they usually like to hear it also.

It sometimes happens that what you feel is not returned for one reason or another—but that does not make your feeling less valuable and good.

Lastly, I know your feeling because I have it and I’m glad you have it.

We will be glad to meet Susan. She will be very welcome. But Elaine will make all such arrangements because that is her province and she will be very glad to. She knows about love too and maybe she can give you more help than I can.

And don’t worry about losing. If it is right, it happens—The main thing is not to hurry. Nothing good gets away.



And at Letters In The Mail, you can subscribe to receive two letters a month from authors.  Read more at the link.  A plus, "Think of it as the letters you used to get from your creative friends, before this whole internet/email thing. Most of the letters will include return addresses (at the author’s discretion) in case you want to write the author back." 

Headline: "Letters In The Mail" Turns Your Favorite Author Into Your Pen Pal.

Now go to the Post Office or and find colorful postage to speed your missives on their way.


Kass said...

I just went through over 50 years worth of letters and cards and put them all in file folders. Some were inane. Some were touching. All brought back memories. My parents kept every letter they ever wrote. I have yet to find the ones I wrote them. I didn't keep a good journal so it would be nice to have the touches of history.

Marylinn Kelly said...

Kass - The word treasure is almost too small for such a cache of memories. How fortunate you are. I admire and envy those who managed to hold onto such pieces of their stories, their histories. I hope you soon find the ones you wrote. xo

Kathleen said...

Love this. And I just want to mention that I'm wearing my typewriter key earrings today.

Marylinn Kelly said...

Kathleen - Thank you, and for reminding me that I have a typewriter key bracelet, unworn for years. I do wish I still had a manual typewriter, a portable - and space to have it out, available. Not a priority, just a hankering. xo