Raw, adjective: 2. not having undergone processes of preparing, dressing, finishing, refining, or manufacture
Meliss and I were in a boutique the other day and I, being the useless shopper that I am, got quickly distracted by a prop book carefully laid out on one of the cutesy little tables set up in the shop. I picked it up and settled into the marshmallowy blue settee while Meliss perused the wares actually for sale.
It was a little tome, nothing special, but I loved it immediately, and by the time Melissa'd settled on her favorite clutch, I'd breezed through a good chunk of the book's few pages. The Art of the Handwritten Note, by Margaret Shepherd, is a little paean to that old-fashioned and nearly obsolete tradition of sending snail mail: the choosing of the perfect card, the carefully addressing the name and street address on the front, the scrawling of a personal message on the inside, preferably in some dark ink and nearly-illegible handwriting, the digging around for a stamp and the walking it down the street to the post office or the nearest mailbox to be sent somewhere across the country where it will pop up in some beloved's mailbox to an audible gasp or an unexpected smile.
I'm a big believer in handwritten correspondence. One of my favorite perks of living far from so many people I love is that it gives me so many great reasons to send a lot of it. I wander into the eclectic little stationer's shops up the street and roll out with a bag full of charming and absurd cards, artistic and glittery and minimalist and serious, and keep a stash there on my desk near the window for those moments when a handwritten card or a little impromptu note feels imperative.
I like the process: the sitting down, the settling-in for a good write, the whipping out one of the trusty fountain pens stashed three or four places around the house, the deciding whether to be broad or detailed, the quick scrawl and the quicker trip to the post office to make sure it goes out yet today. There's just such a heightened intimacy to handwriting in general; something about the materiality of it, the uniqueness of each individual style, the imagined physicality involved in the process of writing a note or a letter. And it's an intimacy whose intensity seems exacerbated by the modern-day ubiquity of email and typed correspondence.
Shepherd's intro concurs:
Writing by hand makes you look good on paper and feel good inside. Even an ordinary handwritten note is better than the best email, and a good handwritten note on the right occasion is a work of art. It says to the reader, "You matter to me, I thought of you, I took trouble on your behalf, here's who I am, I've been thinking of you in the days since this was mailed, I want to share with you the textures and colors and images that I like." And that's the just unspoken messages, the pleasure anticipated before the reader even reads the words that the pen and paper have inspired you to choose. .... A note can deliver all this for less than a dollar's worth of materials and ten minutes of your time.
So: get down, get dirty, get inky, get handwritten. Sit down and feel the pen strokes and the wet ink and remember that old familiar taste of the glue on an envelope seal. Let's not render the handwritten note lost to fuschia flowered wedding invites and memorial thank-you notes. The unexpected ones are the best of all.