In which I write a letter

Dear Reader,

I hope this finds you well. I hope you’re living a pleasant life under quarantine, and that your biscuit tin is never empty.

Since your last letter, I completed another scene of Halo of Flies. It’s going fairly well, I’m building up a nice momentum that doesn’t feel too strenuous to maintain, and I’m enjoying the writing itself. I’ve always loved coming up with worlds for people to inhabit; I think that’s why fantasy has always appealed so strongly. I’ve been thinking about this world for so long that it’s good to have people to finally inhabit it. If I can maintain my current pace, I should have the first draft completed by the 22nd of June. Mark the date on your calendar and if I haven’t completed it by then, you’ve my permission to give me a good ticking off.

It’s been yet another hateful Sunday today; always filled with the promise of rest, but never quite delivering. Sunday is always a day of half-rest, half anticipation of the coming week, half preparations for the coming week, or at least the looming Monday. I swear it’s trying to do such poisonous maths that creates the sensation of the Sunday blues. That and the finality; another week gone, another Sunday funeral to attend, a step closer to the end of the year, a step closer to the end. I hate Sundays, did I tell you? I’m being too harsh, hyperbolic. On the face of things, this one isn’t so bad. I’m writing this and staring out the window at the thin, ephemeral clouds that veneer the sky, and listening to Placebo. There are worse things.

Penguin put their Write Now newsletter out a little while ago and in it they had this gem. It doesn’t take a lot for me to want to write letters. The desire is always bubbling under the surface, like any aberrant urge, waiting for a Freudian slip to bring it to the surface. Somehow typing doesn’t feel the same. I’ve got friends that I write letter-length WhatsApp messages to, but it’s not the same as typewriting or handwriting something to someone.

There’s lots of reasons not to write letters. Firstly, there’s no need. I can talk to all my friends and family much more rapidly, and in full, using other methods than writing. There’s a whole host of reasons it’s less convenient; the extra cost compared to text or email, the extra time that it takes, etc etc… but these are essentially economic arguments and more and more I’m finding myself resenting the fact that economic reasons are our society’s default value system. A lot of the time I feel like refusing an economic framework just to spite the mainstream way of thinking of things.

Secondly, they’re something of an imposition. A letter begs a response, and when the medium is so inconvenient, it creates an obligation that’s more difficult to fulfil than a simple text message, or even an email. Although, these days, it’s perhaps less of an imposition than a phone call. 

And yet… I can’t help myself. The idea of getting out a nice white sheet of paper and a pen and writing a letter appeals on a fundamental level. Perhaps at least part of the appeal is that it is unnecessary.  It seems such a spectacular waste to say ‘you should only do necessary things’ with your life. What kind of life would that be?

Over the tops of the trees, high above the valley floor, there’s a buzzard circling, doing lazy loops, up, up and up again, on a thermal.

What’s your Sunday like? Write soon.

Yours,

Samuel

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