As a lover of writing and technique, I often read author’s collected letters to gain insight into their creative process. These letters are fascinating snapshots of writing that are often quite eloquent. As the modern age is embraced by writers the art of letter writing has seemingly died. Will future collections of correspondence between writers will be much different. Will we see the published emails of Paul Auster or the collected twitter feeds of Cormac McCarthy? I feel that with the preponderance of email and texts many writers will lose their eloquence and the exchange of thoughts and ideas will be diminished.
In 2000 there were 236,000,000 letters mailed through the United States Postal Service, by 2014 only 141,000,000 letters were sent by post. In comparison by 2001 there were over 3,100,000 active email accounts and as we near the close of 2015 there are 4,100,000,000 active accounts. This new communication form and the declining vocabulary spell the end to the ‘Great American Novel’ being written today. As we slowly allow slang and twitter abbreviations to permeate novels and style guides accept poor use of grammar as the new normal we continue down the slippery sloppy slope.
As a kid I was told Television would rot my brain and would be the death of intelligent thought, and maybe a case could be made that is true. I believe that email is the next generation’s television, a new glowing succubus of social media that requires speed not accuracy. So the next time you see an LOL or hashtag think about it, think about how we admire the Declaration of Independence and the beauty and majesty of those words and then imagine it as a tweet. I think you get the picture, so take pen in hand and write a letter today, it could be the first step toward saving English and the novel.