I recently had the good fortune to participate in a writing workshop. Only my second, the first had been a weekend and whet my appetite to discuss and share writing in a group. In fact my absence from these pages is directly linked to the course work of the last 8 weeks.
One of the exercises was born out of a discussion of J. Robert Lennon’s “Eight Pieces for the Left Hand” (from Granta), a collection of clever and insightful ‘flash’ fiction.
We had an in-class exercise to create in 20 minutes 8 of our own short pieces.
Here is one of my attempts
You’ve Sent Mail
I leaned back and looked at the page, proud in an anachronistic sort of way. The cursive twists and tiny bumps of the pen filled the page, left to right, line after line. It was a hand written letter. There were no emoticons or clever fonts, no imbedded photos or colored borders. The letter had not even spell checked itself.
In just a moment I will carefully fold it in thirds, hand-write the address, all the while marveling at the simplicity of the English postal system, Babbling Creek House, Weybridge, Surrey, KT13 3BR. No street address, just a name and obviously a much more detailed postal code system than used here in the U.S.
After placing the letter in the envelope, I will run my tongue with only slight disgust across the shiny swath of glue. The hunt for a stamp will last only a few minutes; about half the time I will pause with the uncertainty of how much postage is required to make it across the pond.
Ultimately it will end up in her hand, not glowing on a back-lit computer screen that has called out “You’ve got mail’, and not released with a tap of the left mouse from behind a blinking cursor.
She can sit in her favorite chair and be with my words. At times she will need to pause to decipher my left-handed scribbles. “Are you sure you’re left handed” my father once asked in bewilderment of my penmanship” “You should become a doctor” a high school English teacher once commented, “Doctors can’t write legibly either”
I know she will be able to read my writing. All the while she will touch the paper that I touched and feel a connection that I did really care and had wanted to personally congratulate her on the birth of her child.