WE'LL COME TO YOU.

Since we aren't on every social media site, let us come to you. Enter your email below and we'll send you our monthly handwritten newsletter. It will be written during the hours of moonrise, and include featured posts, wild tangents, and rowdy stick figures. 

Keep the beautiful pen busy.


Brooklyn, NY
USA

Handwritten is a place and space for pen and paper. We showcase things in handwriting, but also on handwriting. And so, you'll see dated letters and distant postcards alongside recent studies and typed stories. 

HW Blog

search for me

Filtering by Tag: correspondence

Externally Obvious, Internally Mysterious • Minakshi Choudhary

Brett Rawson

BY MINAKSHI CHOUDHARY

When my phone rang and I heard the voice of my community manager on the other side, I was shocked. There was an inland letter waiting to be received by me: that three-fold piece of paper, externally obvious, internally mysterious. 

While I dressed up and on the way to post office, all the neurons of my brain were ringing bells to deafen me with thoughts pouring in and pouring out. Mostly thinking, what might have provoked someone to write a letter to me in this world of emails and phones? Turning the form section of that envelope made me more nervous. My hands were frozen with sweat, unable to unglue the piece of paper. 

The letter was from my nephew studying in fourth grade in a fully residential school. Between reading the from address and ungluing the letter, I came to know how fast our brain processes and how far it can travel within seconds. 

As soon as I opened it, I was all tears seeing this sweet little sender just wanting me to know his address as he left to boarding school. He was under impression that I hadn't written to him because I didn't know his address. This innocence touched me to the core, and at that moment, I wished to hug my sweet little nephew and tell him how we elders are so busy solving the pain of ourselves created by ourselves.

Now, when that sweet little boy is grown up and busy finishing his degrees, I believe he might have forgotten about this episode of his life. We all fall into this trap of forgetting, though our best friend in the form of black and white text always makes our lives colourful with varied emotion rewinded and reversed on timelines. 

He Just Smiled, Said Hello, and Went On His Way • Lora Ackermann

Brett Rawson

Journal 9.jpg

BY LORA ACKERMANN

While searching for any of the many examples of handwritten cards and notes from my family, I came across a journal of mine. This is an incredibly special journal, entirely handwritten, spanning from my first of what would eventually be four ovarian surgeries (over the course of many years) in August of 1992, through the death of my maternal grandmother in March of 1995, her husband, my grandfather in May of 1995, and ending with my soon-to-be wedding in October of 1995. These pages hold such a roller coaster of euphoria and pain. So many entries that touch my heart, soul, and spirit, drawing memories from places long forgotten to the routines of daily life. So many memories bringing new pains of loss and journeyed paths now closed. 

There truly is something to say about the handwritten page. There’s a certain comfort, a warmth, as though the lines are reaching forward, surrounding me in a hug, and drawing me in. As I re-read some of these entries, I can detect, in the formation of the letters, the slant of the words, the stains on the pages, changes in mood, emotion, stress level, time management, and so many other delicate strands that make up these layered memories; delicacies that would be but lost in simplified print. The handwriting, like the musical score of a movie, tells its very own story; separate from the worded memories they so eagerly record. 

Even after reading these pieces of my life from those years, pieces that now seem centuries away from reality, the entry on those first pages still strikes me the most. I had only been home from my first major surgery at age 20 for a day or two. Having received the good news that what was thought to be ovarian cancer wasn’t, I was free to heal and live my life in gratitude. I had a renewed sense of awe and appreciation for the little things life tended to toss haphazardly in my path and it showed in this entry. 

August 29, 1992

…..I just returned from a walk around the block—oh what memories lie in some of the houses around here—not just my own. I can look at Elizabeth’s house, or Suzy’s house, or LouAnne’s, and still see inside, 12-13 years ago….’youngins’ they’d call us. I see Liz and myself in her room, making stickers w/ double-sided tape—we made them out of just about anything—wrapping paper, pictures, things we’d colored, etc.

I see Suzy and I in her room—so pink—pink carpet, bedspread, walls, bright pink, light pink—if ever there was a pink room it was Suzy’s. I see the laundry chute and the poster of ‘Frank Poncherello’ from the TV show, “CHIPS” above her bed. (We had a crush on him, though I liked his partner better.) I see Suzy & I sitting on the floor in her ‘play room’ eating Fruitloops from the box and watching “Emergency 911” (or something like that)—she always said that one of the men was her daddy—They did look alike and for a while I believed her, too! 

I see LouAnne & I in her room playing w/Barbie dolls—she had a loft bed with a yellow carpet underneath. 

I also see inside another house down the street; a brown house next to the Woolsey’s and an elderly woman who used to live there alone. Unfortunately, I don’t remember her name—I wish I did. She used to read to me and she helped teach me to read so that when I was old enough—so to speak, I often read books to her. She was a very kind woman. I wonder how she faired after she moved. I was too young to remember why she moved—family reasons I suppose. I missed her for quite some time. I think sometimes I still do. Perhaps. 

I find that at times I even miss ‘Joe.’ ‘Joe’ was a man who ever since I could remember walked every day. Twice a day he passed our house. ‘Joe’ wasn’t his real name. I don’t know what it is actually. ‘Joe’ was a friendly man who always had a wonderful smile to give any passerby—anyone at all. I think he had a stroke or heart attack. I think he may still be alive, but he doesn’t walk around here anymore. Perhaps he moved; perhaps he just doesn’t walk anymore. ‘Joe’ never corrected us in regard to his name—he just smiled, said hello, & went on his way—leaving smiles on our faces for a long time after. I really did think his name was ‘Joe’ until I was about 15 or 16 when Mom told us differently. She told us his real name, but I still call him ‘Joe.’ Perhaps it’s ‘Joe’ that I owe, in part, my smiling fetish to. Perhaps.

Even typing up these wordssuch layered memories; memories of people who touched my life, beneath memories of writing the entry itself, beneath those of healing, speaking volumes in the spaces between the letters, the lines between the lines; you know the onesthe ones that speak to our hearts, pulling in our soul’s deepest comforts, the ones that can dry a dampened spirit or bring light to the darkest corners. Yes, so many layers that can only be fully appreciated to the depths they desire in their original, handwritten form. 

Today, I journal, too. Sometimes I type. Other times I dictate. But many a time, I pick up my pen, one of the many paper journals my amazing friends have gifted me recently, find a quiet space all my own, and, even for just a few blessed moments, I disappear into the notes of the score, the layers of the letters, the spaces between the words and lines, and the hidden pleasures and soul-soothing rhythms found only when pen, from hand to page, journeys forth.

The One Who Wrote Back • Jim Landwehr

Brett Rawson

2016-02-19 17.14.55 copy.jpg

BY JIM LANDWEHR

It was writing that brought us together. 

In 1986, I moved from my hometown of St. Paul Minnesota to Waukesha, Wisconsin just outside of Milwaukee for a new job. My brother Rob was also living away from home as a student in upstate New York. He and I wrote for a period of time and in one of his letters to me, he included letters from three of his female friends on his dorm floor. He’d told them I had just moved to Waukesha and didn’t really know anyone and that he thought it would brighten my spirits to receive some letters from them.

I don't remember exactly what each of the three had to say. Most of the letters were introductory in nature and seemed like honest attempts to be nice and cure me of my homesick loneliness. They were all away from their families as well, and we were all close in age, so had music, books and college life in common to talk about.

I was, of course, flattered that 3 women would take the time to write, so I wrote each of them individual letters back. Only one wrote back. 

For a year and a half.

Donna and I became 20th century pen pals of sorts. This was before the age of e-mail, faxes, texting and Skype. Long distance calls were expensive. Postage for a letter was about a quarter.

So we wrote, and we wrote, and we wrote. Short letters, long letters, letters about the trials of college and a new job, and roommates, and philosophy and religion, family, music, and books. We shared joys, concerns, doubts, beliefs and bad jokes. I sometimes took my writing to silly mediums like writing on napkins or the back of maps, just to keep it interesting. One of the things I recall her liking was my "Random Observations" which covered most subjects under the sun. Near the end of our writing things got a little spicier and flirtatious, neither of us knowing what the other would think, but daring to "go there" nonetheless.

Someone once said that writing is not a bad way to get to know someone – to become friends through writing before pursuing a relationship. I know it was true for me as it was sometimes easier to write things from the heart than it was to say them to someone I hardly knew.

Then one day she called. She said she was thinking about paying a visit and wondered what I'd think? I, of course, said I would love to see her. Both of us knew it would likely change our relationship forever.

And, man, did it ever.

I greeted her at the airport with a single red rose. We went to dinner at the Chancery and out to see the movie "Light Years" at the coolest theatre in Milwaukee, the Oriental. On the way home, "our song" came on the radio in the car, oddly enough, because it wasn't a big top 40 hit. When we got home we stayed up late and talked, and talked.

During the summer of 1989 she did an internship in Brookfield Wisconsin, which enabled us to try dating without five states between us. We were engaged that summer and married on June 16th, 1990. This past year we celebrated our twenty-fifth anniversary.

Looking back, it’s hard to say how this courtship would have played out in these modern times. Email, Skype and texting seem so impersonal compared to the anticipation of a letter from across the country. My wife saved every letter I sent her. In a fit of cleaning I threw most of hers out just before we were married. I managed to find a number from her that are post-engagement, but everything else is lost in the physical sense.  What remains, are the memories and feelings of that time. I still cherish a handwritten letter from anyone. It is a lost art, one that we pursued with a passion so long ago. It’s my feeling that the emotional outpouring that goes into a letter is felt on the other end in a mystical way that is lost in an electronic medium. 

I do know that it worked something special for us. To this day she says that my words were what attracted her to me. There must have been something in hers that drew me to her, as well.

It’s amazing what one simple letter can become.  

This Diary is Worth So Much More than the Paper it is Written On • Melissa Dundas-Paine

Brett Rawson

BY MELISSA DUNDAS-PAINE

Our mom was diagnosed with colon cancer in 1989. It was a highly emotional time for our family, as Papa (our Dad's Dad) had just passed in a tragic car crash. Our Mom had surgery and underwent treatment shortly after the diagnosisbut being so close to our Papa, I can only imagine she immediately felt faced with her own mortality. I remember her saying that Papa visited her in a dream and told her it wasn't her time to go yet. She decided sometime between then and her death five years later that she needed to write down the story of how she met our dad, Papa's son, as well as when and why they decided to have children. 

But we didn't know this back then. Our dad gave us this handwritten story after her passing. She had also taken the time to type it out, but as you can imagine, the handwritten account tugs so much more at our heartstrings. There is just something special about seeing our mother's penmanship. It evokes so many sweet memories. 

She passed while we were all young, before any of us had started dating. But to have this account written by her of how she met our father and how she felt upon becoming pregnant with each of us and about the days we were born is just priceless. These are her thoughts and feelings written for us by her hand. What she must have been thinking as she penned this is just unfathomable. I'm sure she hoped we would be older and that the journal would have been full of more stories, but tragically, it sits less than a quarter full of her handwriting, as her life was cut short at the age of thirty-nine. 

This diary, or mini memoir, is a treasure to my sisters and myself, and is worth so much more than the paper it is written on.

Melissa Paine 1copy.jpg
 

Chris & I got engaged on June 10th, 1975.  He was so romantic.  We went parking by the lake, he asked me if I would be his wife and then slid the ring on my finger.  (What a love). One time, maybe a year before this, we were at a hockey game (Flyers). Chris asked me “why do you want to marry me?” I said, “because I want you in my life forever.” He said, “well if I marry you it will be forever.

 
 

I remember the night Chris said to me, “I’d like to start to try having a baby, what about you?” I was so excited I couldn’t sleep.  It was in March.  It took 3 months it seemed like forever.  Chris enjoyed the pregnancy so much.  We would lay on the couch at night and wait for the baby to kick.  All my babies were very lazy, maybe 10-15 kicks a day.  

 

 

Rumors Were True. I am Ill with Cancer • An Unpublished Letter from Anais Nin in 1975

Brett Rawson

Anais Nin wasn't supposed to be writing letters in 1975. She had been recently diagnosed with cancer. But she received a letter from a young woman wandering Japan, she felt compelled to respond. Thirty years later, it surfaces for the first time in public. In this new year, may you reach out to those who have influenced your thinking. Perhaps you, too, will receive words in return.

Read More

I Won a Twenty Pound Bag of Detergent • Livia Meneghin

Brett Rawson

BY LIVIA MENEGHIN

A few years ago, I heard about a Brooklyn thrift store opportunity that I couldn't pass up: $25 for a large shopping bag of goodies. "If you can fit it, you can buy it!" said handwritten signs alongside the walls of the dilapidated building. When I saw their piles of books, I knew the clothing sections of the store would have to wait. My hands quickly skimmed across countless novels until finally halting on a book by Thomas A. Harris, called I'm OK—You're OK. I was taking a psychology class at the time, and interested in how mental health affected relationships, so I happily placed it in my bag. On the train home, I opened up the cover and found a note. 

On New Year's Eve in 1973, a mother gave this book to her daughter (Sue). But why did Sue’s mother have the book? We know she read it, but what made her give it to Sue? Did she now hope it could provide answers for her daughter in the New Year?

I thought back to the times I’ve been gifted books. Just this past summer, a close friend gave me her childhood copy of The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry for my birthday. It was incredibly worn, probably providing her with years of adventure and happiness. Holding that book in my hands, with its broken spine and her favorite lines highlighted, made me feel like we were reading together. A book as a gift is so much more than something to read. Chosen with care and thoughtfulness, a book is an outstretched hand, welcoming another into a new world of new ideas.

On the train ride home, I flipped through the tattered pages when I came across a lump. Sitting between pages 138 and 139 was an unsealed letter from Mrs. Mary Lehman from Monmouth, Illinois to Mrs. Ruth Robertson from Marion, Kansas, dated three years after the inscription (September 16, 1976). I wondered now about the four women. Did they all know each other? Did Sue gift it after reading? Mrs. Lehman's handwriting reminded me of my grandmother's—very elegant and careful. I could hear a humorous attitude with the first line, "Guess its about time I answered your letter." I felt like I knew them—had been given access into their personalities, their voices. This letter was not much different from the ones I write with my friends. We share daily news, things that seem unimportant, but it can mean wonders to someone far away when we ask if they are OK.  

This leaves me wondering: what if I put a letter of my own into the book and donated it to a used bookstore, to keep the chain going? Whether intentionally placed or not, I picked up extra inspiration that day in Brooklyn, a mystery of sorts. I walked away with more than just a book, but possibilities for more stories. There's something incredibly human about imagining these women, especially through the same book they all shared. It makes the world feel smaller, more meaningful, even without actually knowing them or being in the same physical space. By continuing the chain, I can add to the story.

The letter is transcribed below.

 

Dear Ruth:
Sept 16, '76

Guess its about time I answer your letter, now that the Fall Festival is over with, it lasted 4 days. The senior citizens all went out there for breakfast one morning, we ate at the Lutheran tent, then went out that evening with Gene and Janice as Dan was working at one tent, the little boys were in the chicken scramble, Cory who is six, he caught a chicken and got a silver Dollar, but Tye was too slow, he didn’t get any, then the kids were in the Pet Parade on Sat. morning. Cory got first prize in his class, with a unusual [  ] got 2 silver dollars for that, so he thought he did real well, I won a 20 lb bag of detergent at one of the stands, so I will be clean for a while, been having nice weather, had a rain last wed night, has been cool ever since, had the furnace on a couple times, so makes one think that winter is just around the corner, we had a nice visit with Mary + Marvin, they were here for 3 days, seemed happy, hope everything turns out all right for them, they were on their way home. Ralph were here one evening, they had a letter from Lillian, they wanted me to read, sure too bad about Dick, hope he will soon be better. 

Jacks are getting ready to pick seed corn, they hope to start next week, some of the fellows have all ready started. Just talked to Phyllis she was making pepper relish, she always makes a lot and gives most of it away, as her men don’t like it, she brought me some nice tomatoes yesterday and dozen eggs, her pullets are laying already. 

I cleaned my garage yesterday, so today I am not doing much, made some bread pudding this morning, going to have goulash for dinner, have some hamburgers to use. Our Book Club went out for breakfast at the Restaurant yesterday morning. 

Hope you are feeling OK. Are you taking the Divine flu shot that the gov is giving. I will if they ever get the serum in here or else I will take my regular shot that I have always taken. 

Gene just called, said to tell you “Hello” 

Mary

Livia Meneghin is a poet, non-fiction writer, and recent graduate from Franklin & Marshall College with a Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing. She was a contributing writer and photographer for F&M’s College Reporter, and earned the William Uhler Hensel Senior Prize in Research Writing for her essay, “Priest, Clerk, and Pitiable King: The Portrayal of Richard II in Recent Production History.” Her work is published in literary journals Dispatch and Plume. After a month-long poetry workshop in Greece, she is working on her first full-length collection and applying to MFA programs. You can follow her writing here: liviameneghin.wordpress.com.