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Opening Arguments

The write stuff

Come to think of it, it's been so long ago that I can't even remember when:

"When Is the Last Time I Wrote a Letter?"

The saddest casualty of the electronic revolution.  Handwritten letters not only have a beauty, immediacy and personal touch -- my heart leaps when I see a friend's or family member's handwriting in a way an e-mail address just cannot match -- they are evidence of our lives and times, and as fragile as they seem, they are actually more robust than archived e-mails on a hard drive, to be ground to dust in the stampede of technological innovation.

[. . .]

Shall we defy the inevitable?  Take a moment -- no, let's be honest, take an hour -- this weekend to try to revive and savor the antiquated pleasure of writing someone a letter.  And then come back and say what it was like.  Did you feel fidgety and impatient?  Did writing feel too slow for your thoughts, or did it slow them down in a pleasurable and even fruitful way?  Holding a pen to me is like holding an eager dog on a leash.  Has your handwriting deteriorated from disuse, too?

I used to write these long letters on yellow legal paper to a friend I once worked with, and she sent the same kind to me. When I haul those out and re-read them, they seem more real, and more revealing of her, than the e-mails and the sometimes even longer missives typed out on Word. Most of the actual writing I do these days is in short list form -- things to buy at the grocery store, possible items to blog about, stuff to pack for vacation.

Since I've learned the trick of having multiple windows open at once on the computer, I find I can use one to write in and others to keep track of the numerous articles I'm consulting for the piece I'm writing. Once upon a time, I printed all those out and had them scattered all over my desk every morning, heavy with underlines and notes in the margins. That's probably the one thing I miss most about the way I do my job these days -- underlining and making notes was a way to organize my thoughts about what I was reading.

Guess I need a Kindle 2!

By using the QWERTY keyboard, you can add annotations to text, just like you might write in the margins of a book. And because it is digital, you can edit, delete, and export your notes. Using the new 5-way controller, you can highlight and clip key passages and bookmark pages for future use. You'll never need to bookmark your last place in the book, because Kindle remembers for you and always opens to the last page you read.