Being a fan of history and an instinctive traditionalist to boot, it pains me to say this. There is a certain elegance and grace to the written letter, a quality that says, "You were important enough for me to go to this much trouble," that is the exclusive domain of the handwritten letter.
But while I appreciate the compliment, I simply don’t have the time to deal with
it. As a matter of fact, I am removed by about five degrees of separation from even being able to think about having the time to deal with it. I used to have a staff person to open the mail, deal with most of it on the front end, place in my IN box the very, very few pieces that absolutely needed my attention, and then do with it whatever I decided with it (respond, file, forward) after I glanced through it and then placed it in my OUT tray. And even then I didn’t have time to deal with it. The virtual mountains of e-mail, the press of constant meetings, the obligation to occasionally, when I could get around to it, do a wee bit of journalism, kept me from keeping up even in that system.
Now, I don’t have any of that support, so mounds of snail mail — most of it bound for the wastebin, but some of it actually in need of my attention — pile up on my desk, until such time as some emergency causes me to plow through it in search of something, and I push aside all more urgent matters just long enough to reduce the pile in one mad surge — and I promise you, if you sent me something, I don’t spend one percent of the time you spent sending it. And this makes me feel guilty, but I don’t know what to do about it.
And then, finally, there’s the problem that increasingly, I find it very hard to read. I find it hard even to read enough to determine whether I should read further. I go to the end to see the signature, go back, try to read it again, and just can’t make it out.
I don’t know whether this is because I’ve been spoiled by type, or I’m getting older and lack the mental elasticity to intuit meaning from few clues, or what.
But if you want me to read it, type it. And as long as you’re going to type it (since "type" these days means on a word processor; RARE is the note written on typewriter, and that is usually from some clinically insane person from the other end of the country), please send it electronically. Then I might, at some point, be able to get to it. I’ll do my best, anyway.
NOTE: The illegible (to me) sample I’ve included here is from someone from out-of-state; I didn’t wish to to embarrass a regular reader or anyone identifiable.