By TOM HONIG
Picture this: Sitting around a table with a group of techies, and I bring up the obscure information that February has been declared "The Month of Letters Challenge," when writers are being asked to post a letter a day.
A couple of them nod their heads. So I press on.
"Actual letter-writing is an artform. One of my favorite genres of literature is "The Selected Letters of ...." Steinbeck wrote letters. Faulkner wrote letters. Emily Dickensen. Charles Dickens. Even Georgia O'Keefe and comedian Fred Allen.
"I don't think you'll be reading 'The selected e-mails of' anyone in the future."
"Well, we don't use Morse Code anymore, either," said another techie.
Then the conversation switched. But I got to thinking about my old "Britannica Guide to English Usage," which dictated style and etiquette in crafting a letter. Or an essay by Lewis Carroll about how it's best to address and stamp an envelope before writing a letter or the unsent missive will lie unsent on the writing table for days at a time.
So far, I haven't joined in the letter-writing campaign. But I might. E-mails and Facebook posts and tweets are not a substitute for an old-fashioned letter. Neither, really, is a telephone call.
A letter says: "I've sat down and thought about you and I'm taking the time to craft a few thoughts for your eyes only."
I haven't written a letter in years. I don't even have a mailing address for most of my friends.
There's more than nostalgia here. An artform has been sent out on the trash pile of antiquity. It's a nice thought to have a "Write a Letter" campaign -- even if the only way to get the word out about it is on blogs.