Monday, July 28, 2014

The Written Response

The Written Response
by Fran McNabb

I was going through an armoire the other day and ran across the box of letters I saved when my future husband was in Germany with the Air Force and I was still finishing my senior year in college. I took the letters out and savored the feel and the smell of them, then I sat down and revisited the words he wrote over forty-four years ago.

The written word has lost its dominance today and is being replaced rapidly by digital. Here I am this morning writing this blog on a computer and I wouldn’t have it any other way, but I can’t help but think how sad it is that the written word is fading.

Digital is a much quicker type of writing, sometimes even requiring less thought and certainly less energy. Because I rely on my keyboard so much, I have lost the nice handwriting I once had. I’ve read that schools are steering away from teaching cursive. What a shame. I’ve always admired those people who have the ability to write beautiful cursive. I look back at history to the beautifully handwritten documents that our forefathers penned. No more do we have such papers. Everything is done on the computer.

There’s a lot to be said about the digital age we live in. Fast, convenient, neat—all of these qualities are positive, but let’s take a moment to look at the positives of the handwritten word.

First, letters and written cards contain a little bit of the writer. He or she must locate the paper or card to be sent and a pen to use. The writer must then sit and carefully write the message because there isn’t a delete button. After rereading to make sure no mistakes have been made, he must locate an envelope, the correct address, and a stamp. He then walks to the mailbox or drives to the post office. I know we’re not talking about a day’s work, but still, there is an effort that must be made on the part of the sender that isn’t required with digital messages.

These written communications are tangible and can be held and saved and read as often as the receiver wants for as long as the pieces are kept. I still get a little zing of excitement when I find a card or a personal letter in my mailbox.

Most of us have a love affair with digital communications. No way could some of us survive if our computers permanently crashed tomorrow—and that includes me. Computers have become a necessary part of our lives, emails have become our choice of communication, and social media has connected the world. I’m not saying that any of this is wrong. Our world has probably changed for the better because of computers and the internet, but I hope we don’t completely lose the value of written communications.

When was the last time you sat down and wrote to someone? I have a few friends and relatives who still take the time to write to me. I love them for that and I hope you too still have someone who’ll send you something personally written soon.

Fran McNabb grew up along the Gulf Coast and has used the waterways, the islands and the beaches in many of her novels. She and her husband still enjoy boating and fishing and love to share the experiences with their two sons and their families. When not on the water, Fran spends her time writing and painting. Visit her at


  1. I wrote a note last week, to a reader. I still get some snail mail from readers. But I, too, have lost my nice handwriting to disuse.

  2. Fran - you are so right. Back in the day, we had pen pals. Now we have Facebook friends.

    I can't tell you when I last sat down and wrote a letter. It seems like 20 years ago.

    But I do have to admit, I have no idea how I would write without a computer even though most of the great works were just by hand or typewriter. Imagine the editing nightmare!!

  3. Sad, but so true, Fran. I love getting real mail, but except for birthday and Christmas cards, it's mostly just advertising in the mailbox. Have to admit, though, that I rarely write an actual letter myself. It's a shame to lose this wonderful means of communication. Thanks for the reminder.

  4. I enjoy sending cards and jotting notes inside of them. I also like receiving notes inside of cards. I purposely do not own a phone with texting capabilities. I don't want to text or receive them Sadly, I think society is slowing being herded into the technology corral.

  5. I do send the occasional card or note, but haven't written an actual letter in years. My entire family communicated by email or Facebook now. I suspect actual letter-writing is a dying art.

  6. Hi Fran. Nice post and reminder. These days I only write letters when I'm sending a greeting card. I insert the letter in the card. I used to send a congrats card to my writer friends when they shared major news but now I only send an email or text.