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Write me a letter - the lost art of writing letters - jasonstadtlander.com

Write Me a Letter – The Lost Art of Writing a Letter

Write Me a Letter – The Lost Art of Writing a Letter 2000 1334 Jason Stadtlander

I recently wrote a friend of mine a letter. You know, the old-fashioned way, with a pen and paper?

It occurred to me on page two, about the time that my hand was killing me… that my penmanship was terrible. Well, no, that isn’t exactly what was going through my head. What hit me was how lost an art it truly has become, writing a letter by hand.

Words scrawled on a paper stating how much you miss someone. Receiving a letter that smells like perfume from the woman that wrote it. Newspaper letters cut out neatly to create a ransom note stating that.. wait, what? No, no, no – I’m talking about handwritten letters.

Aside from the casual birthday card, I cannot remember the last time that I got a handwritten letter. We have grown so accustomed to instant email, the instant text or phone calls, that a lot of us have lost touch with that ancient art of writing a letter to someone.

There is something tangible, something real – that comes from that handwritten letter. Holding that piece of paper and knowing that it came from someone else. The other person physically held that paper and took the time to scribble a message on it in their own hand-script. That hand-writing defines a unique person. The font that cannot be duplicated.

I can remember as a child, writing another child who lived in Scotland as a ‘pen pal’ through a program that our school offered. It was amazing, to know that this boy four thousand miles away had actually written on the paper that I held in my hand and had mailed that letter to me.

I raise a question to you; When was the last time you wrote a letter to someone? For that matter, when was the last time you received one?

So, I challenge you! Write me a letter. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy or long (I mean, make it at least a paragraph… Hopefully, I’m worth that much effort). And I will write you back. I can’t promise you a long letter back or that my writing will be legible, but I promise I will put thought into it.

Jason Stadtlander
P.O. Box 434
Swampscott, MA 01907
United States of America

Let’s see how many of you are willing to stand up to the challenge!

Our Legacy and What We Leave Behind

Our Legacy and What We Leave Behind 1707 1280 Jason Stadtlander

The movie “The Road” starring Viggo Mortensen and Kodi Smit-McPhee is a movie based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning author Cormac McCarthy’s book, “The Road.” For those who haven’t seen the film, it is an extremely powerful film about hardship, the love of a child and survival instincts. The book is also an incredible read, but difficult.

That movie – and my novel, The Steel Van Man – have made me wonder about the connection to our children and families, and to ask myself what lengths I might be willing to go to protect my family.

I can attest to my own experiences and feelings toward family, children and the overwhelming need to protect them.

A Family to Live or Die for . . .

protect-the-childrenFor those of you who do not know, I have two children of my own, and I can say without thinking about it, I would kill to protect them. When I am gone from this world, all that will remain of me will be the words I leave behind and my children. Although I hope my writing endures, my children are paramount in all that I do, see, breathe and speak.

In The Road, a father is trying to guide his son to safety, and in doing so,  shows him what is right and what is wrong. At one point, attempting to protect the boy, the man steals the clothes from another man who has just robbed them. The boy later encourages his father to return the clothes to the man and leave behind food for him, showing the father what it means to retain a level of humanity during a time of distress and societal collapse.

At what cost do we allow humanity and society to influence our families? If you have children and are at home reading this, look at your children right now. If you are at work reading this, look at a picture of your children – I’m sure you have one around. What are their lives worth? What is their safety worth? Looking at your child playing on the floor or smiling up at you from that photo. You know that you will do absolutely anything to protect that innocent life. Your needs are (should) be secondary to theirs. You will carry the world on your shoulders, plow through any obstacle and face any challenge to help that little person – that little human who is part of you and someone else. You will help them to become someone special, to be more than you are right now.

Now, look at this from a different perspective. Times are constantly changing, rules of society changing. Some rules for the better and some not. How far will we allow humanity to dictate the final outcome of our children? How much do we allow society to control and skew the perspectives of our children for the betterment of society?

We as a species fight all the time over politics, race, gender classification, and religion. Your race doesn’t matter; neither does your class, gender classification, your spiritual denomination or your job. I know that sounds harsh, but it’s true. It matters to you, but in the great scheme of things none of this matters when it comes to the responsibility of raising your child. Hell, none of them really matter even when you don’t have children. In the end, when you are gone from this world, you are gone for good. Take control of the world around by starting with yourself and your family. Concentrate on what you can change in the immediate, then focus on what seems impossible to change.

Complicated Times – Simple Rules

family-time-is-most-importantWe live in an age of over-stimulation, an age of instant information, social media and media overload. These access points are constantly trying to change our perspective on the world around us. Worse, they are trying to change the perspective of our children, parents be damned.

In our home we have five (primary) rules:

  • Treat others with respect
  • Expect respect, but fight for it if you don’t get it
  • Eat dinner with no television, computers or phones while sitting AT the table – every night
  • Never hit someone, but know how to defend yourself
  • Never, ever lie to those you love

The most important thing to take away from all of this is; Believe in yourself and what you feel is right deep down in your heart, and what you know will guide your child in the right direction.

Because in the end. . . they are what we you leave behind. Our children are what we all leave behind.


PFP (Elegy) Legacy of an Artist

PFP (Elegy) Legacy of an Artist 900 360 Jason Stadtlander

“Legacy of an Artist”

The brush, what soft lines you have created in stroke
Your voice, trompe-l’œil at masters hand
Upon the easel do you lay in dark
Your soul, now still, living no more the dreams
The fragrance of turpentine hangs in air
Slowly thinning in the shadowy depth
Of studio now once again basement
Oh creator! Oh master! Where have you gone?
Hollow and bare of beauty that was

Your hand was an instrument, oils your note
As the music of your dream revealed worlds
Seen through the tender eyes of woman
Your view of a simpler time was woven
Your canvas, portal to antiquity
Of scenes you made dreams come true as to touch

Time continues, clouds drift across the blue
The future unravels, minutes progress
And yet on, your elegance continues
Long removed from your peaceful sleeping
Your view of life shines on in those who love
Continuing your legacy, art and soul

About This Poetry Form

Name: Elegy
Description: An elegy is a poem that follows either dactylic hexameter or pentameter, though modern elegies have followed iambic pentameter rhythm or free verse format with no set rhythm. One of the more famous elegies is Oh Captain, My Captain by Walt Whitman in memory of Abraham Lincoln.

Generally an elegy is broken into three parts:

  • Part 1: Expressing sorrow at the loss
  • Part 2: Singing the praises of the person or group of people
  • Part 3: Offers solace and speaks of the peace or good of their legacy.

I have written this particular poem about my grandmother and artist Barbara Stadtlander who created several hundred paintings in her life.

About This Series

Read more about this series here.

I.T. by Day, Author by Night

I.T. by Day, Author by Night 150 150 Jason Stadtlander

Network AdministratorNo Right to Write

“What makes you think that a network administrator can write a novel?” a friend asked me a couple years ago – well, an ex-friend. Any friend who doesn’t support your ideas isn’t a true friend, in my opinion.

It’s a good question, however. The truth is, I suppose any network administrator out there may not be able to, but this network administrator was going to do it regardless of what people said.

One day back in 2004 while riding on the train, I pulled a notebook out of my backpack and scrawled:

The old lighthouse on the small rock island stood ominous, thirty feet above the water at its base. The weathered building raised four stories tall and attached to it was a light tower which reached another forty feet above that. The house, built in 1814, was well weathered and the shingles that covered it were missing in small patches on all four sides.

It was the first thing I had composed as an adult since several short stories I had written back when I was in middle and high school. I never did write more than two paragraphs of that story, and I don’t know if I ever will complete more with it. But since I first began writing back in sixth grade, I have one hundred and sixty-three short stories sitting on my computers and in notebooks (yes, the paper type). About a third of them have yet to be finished; be it from boredom with the story or life distractions such as children, I have yet to wrap them up. I would say another third are stories that either fascinated me or interested me at one point, but I decided for one reason or another that they don’t anymore.

Finally, the latter third I love and believe most readers will enjoy as well. I have dozens more trapped within my gray matter that have yet to make it on either paper or computer, but I’m always rolling them around in my mind, trying to decide if they will be published as a short story or expanded into a book.

WritingCreativity Begets Solution

Why am I successful as an I.T. professional and technology teacher? As I see it, it boils down to two things that not only help me as  the I.T. professional but also assist in my pursuits as a writer.

  • Creativity – In information technology, it’s important to be able to think outside the box. The means of achieving a goal may have dozens or even hundreds of solutions. Being able to think through several different ways for achieving those goals is critical. People don’t usually come to me because they want an answer to a problem they don’t know an answer to. They come to me because they have thought of  every solution they could think of and know that somehow, I will be able to come up with a few more.
    This obviously applies to writing as well. Creativity is critical with fiction (and some non-fiction) writing. Being able to dream up places, people, creatures, scenarios and settings that either never existed or have existed but you have no way of going there, requires a level of creativity.
  • Relatability – Being able to relate to others is one of the critical parts of helping people with computer problems, unless you plan to be like “Nick Burns the Company Computer Guy.” Being relatable helps me teach. Trying to put myself in another’s shoes, picture what they are going through, understand their frustration – this really is key.
    The same follows for writing. You can’t effectively write a character if you can’t imagine what it must be like to be that character, whether they are human, alien or animal. It’s part of the magic, getting to pretend you’re someone you aren’t.

“Dead or Alive, You’re Coming With Me…”

Ahhh, the famous words uttered by the wonderful B movie character RoboCop. So true though.

After writing for a while (as an adult), I came to the conclusion that, regardless of whether I published or didn’t publish, writing relieved stress. It let me escape from the mundane crap of my daily routine and detestable commute. Do I like taking the train into Boston every day, day in and day out? No. I hate it. In fact, I hate that I hate it, and that it hates me back most likely. Yeah, ponder that for a while.

Do I like my job in Boston? Yes. But not because of what I do. I like it because every once in while I hear “Thank you – you saved the day” or “Wow, I’m so glad you’re here – I never would have gotten that” to which I usually respond “No problem” or “You would have gotten it eventually, but I know you’re in a crunch.”

I work as a network administrator to pay the bills, put food on my children’s plate and keep a roof over our heads. I do enjoy being in Boston, but really, people…I hate the commute. There is absolutely nothing pleasant about having to leave my children every day and deal with the road-rage assholes all the way to the parking garage just to be crammed in a train that breaks down half the time full of people who don’t want to be there anyway.

So – I write. After work, I get on the train, put on my writing shoes…crazy isn’t it – that I wear different shoes for writing? Then I paint worlds that don’t exist, killers that never lived and situations that only the absurd would enter.

And I happily drag you along. So dead or alive – you’re coming right along with me!

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