Farewell to Handwritten Letters?


Is this the end of handwritten letters? Will I have to resign from the Handwritten Letters Appreciation Society? Is this the end of the world as we know it? Probably.

Lately, I’ve been experiencing cramping and soreness in my right hand after only writing one letter. I’ve been getting a tightness across the palm as well. Being diabetic, carpel tunnel syndrome is a possibility, but for the rest, it’s good old-fashioned arthritis. As Helen Mirren said, growing older is not for wimps. She was not wrong. I’ve written letters by hand since I was 11 years old. Occasionally I’ve resorted to using a computer and printer, when I’ve been woefully behind on letters, or had something important to say that I did not want have to repeat over and over again. But the reason why I have an unreasonably large collection of unused writing sets is because I love writing by hand. When I was writing stories and trying to write a novel, I’d write longhand in lots of Pukka Pads. Typing got in the way of creativity. Well, it looks like I have no choice now.

When my husband asked me what I would like for my birthday, I suggested he get me an electric typewriter. I turned 62 back in march, and he gave me a Nakajima AX-150. New mind you, not secondhand. It seems that there is still a market for electric typewriters. Yes, even with the ubiquitous computer. I had one yonks ago, an Olivetti. But when we got a computer, it was put away under a dustsheet and forgotten about. When we moved house in 2006 I think I gave it away to a charity shop. Which only goes to prove that my belief is the right one: if you throw something away, sooner or later you will need it again. If only I’d kept it. Ribbons and daisywheels are still made today. Ah well, I have my lovely Japanese model now.

However, there are is a drawback, namely the daisywheel. I haven’t used the typewriter every single day, though I do most days. Yet after only a couple of months, the daisywheel is wearing out. Some letters, such as a, r and s are not striking as well as they should. Were they made of metal originally? I seem to remember that they were, and now they are made of cheaper plastic. It took me some time, but I finally managed to find an online store, in the UK, where I can buy replacement wheels for £30. Thing is, they are aimed at businesses. I wonder how they will feel about selling only one or two, to someone who uses the thing at home, to write letters.

(The photo above is of my new beastie. I don’t have a name for it yet. Any suggestions? Please excuse the very cluttered desk. )

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