My Letter Writing Obsession


February 13, 2015

I wanted to write a letter. That is how it started.

I wanted to be able to send someone a beautifully crafted, handwritten letter because deep down I knew that there was something missing.

I wanted to be able to connect on a level that I can’t do with email or a video or a web page or even a phone call.

There is something magical about a piece of handwritten mail. It is personal, it’s something that some other person took time out of their day to create.

It is special. It means something.

I didn’t have anything I needed to craft the letter I wanted to craft.

I needed a pen. It needed to be a handwritten letter. I was sending something to someone I care about. It was important.

But, a normal pen wouldn’t do. The $0.10 Bic ballpoint pen wasn’t going to convey what I was truly feeling. I needed something that felt like fancy handwriting. I needed a fountain pen.

So, I went looking for a fountain pen. Have you ever searched for a fountain pen at Staples or Office Max or even Barnes & Noble? It’s basically a nightmare. Eventually I found a fountain pen in a gift box. I bought it.

I had never used a fountain pen before, but I knew I needed one to get the look that I wanted. It was blue. I like blue.

The pen was great, but after some practice it ran out of ink and I didn’t have a place nearby that sold ink. So, I went on Amazon and bought some ink and a refillable ink cartridge. It was Noodler’s Ink in a beautiful, deep black. The price was right. Good enough.

I needed paper.

Not just any paper would do. I needed something that felt old, that felt heavy, that made me feel good about what I was sending. I found a small stock of paper and matching envelopes at Staples. It had an antique, heavyweight vibe to it. The quality is not what you get from most paper.

It couldn’t have lines. That’s important. The paper had to look like it didn’t have lines or anything, but how was I going to write a nice looking letter if I didn’t have good lines to write with?

Did I mention I have bad handwriting? I have pretty bad handwriting.

So, I devised a contraption. I found a clear plastic clipboard I could put a light behind. I found a piece of lined paper and taped it to the clipboard. I would write a letter with this strange contraption.

Eventually, I found a nice LED light to go under the clipboard. Much better.

I wanted to do something really cool with the letter. I wanted a wax seal. When was the last time you got a letter with a wax seal on it?

Yep, never. Nobody loves me enough to do that.

So, I went online, I went to eBay, and I went to Etsy in search of the perfect stamp. I found an old supposedly French stamp with the letter K on it. The price was good enough, so I had it shipped to my door. Thank you Etsy!

I didn’t know what kind of wax I would need so I looked around and found a cool kit that came with 3 different colors. I ordered the kit and the wax candles that arrived were a bit smaller than I imagined them to be, but they did a great job.

I couldn’t use a normal stamp. A normal stamp wouldn’t do. I needed to find a vintage stamp. Luckily the USPS has a really great variety of stamps, some of them with that vintage vibe. I bought a few different kinds. Some had clowns. Weird, but cool.

I now had everything I needed to write the perfect letter.

I sat down and wrote the letter. It was a rough draft, I rewrote it one or two times until it looked nice.

Oh, did I mention that I had been writing in my journal with that fountain pen? I’ve been trying to improve my terrible handwriting. So, I practice basic letters and words until they start to look like what I want. Really, it’s better than nothing, but still not amazing.

So, my letter. With everything I need to write a letter, I sat down and carefully, painstakingly wrote a letter. I folded nicely, addressed the envelope, applied the postage, and sealed it with my wax and stamp.

It looked beautiful. It was exactly what I was trying to create. It looked official, important, special, meaningful.

I put it in the mail.

A few days later, I got a phone call…

My mom loved it.

That is how my obsession with letter writing started. That is where I started to care about fountain pens, paper, handwriting, journaling, and all of that stuff started.

I wanted to do something special for my mom and it was completely worth it.

- Brian




About The Author

Brian Knapp is one half of the dynamic duo that runs Retro Mocha. You can follow his hilarious puns on Twitter.