One of my friends is on an extended stay in New Zealand at the moment. Usually, she's only on the other side of the country, but even then we write letters to each other. Thanks to modern technology it's possible to have instant communication with people on the other side of the globe. If she had Skype where she's staying, we could even see each other. That's great but it's ephemeral.
    There's something about receiving a letter that's special. You have a real physical connection to the sender. When you hold the letter, you're touching something that they've touched. A letter is more considered than emails or texts tend to be, and usually concerns subjects of more significance than the small-talk of a phone call. You can keep letters forever and be transported to a particular time and place whenever you look at them.
    Small wonder that letters were once such a popular structure for novels. Jane Austen used it for her novel Lady Susan, which was unpublished in her lifetime, as did J. L. Carr for The Harpole Report . I suppose today's equivalent would be to write a novel as texts, in fact, it's probably already been done, but this could become tedious as texts are so compressed. let's face it, they don't even bother to use vowels most of the time. I can't really see electronic communications standing the test of time as letters do; they certainly lack the pleasure of anticipation and exotic postage stamps. That's why my friend and I still exchange letters.
    The special nature of letter-writing is recognised by The Letters Page (, which publishes letters to and from people both real and imaginary, fact or fiction. They want handwritten submissions on a sheet of A4. Those selected appear online and in the print form of the magazine, and the authors receive £100. Sometimes there's a them, but the next issue is open, so get out your pen and practise your longhand. The next closing date is 22nd January 2016.