My initial thoughts before starting on the second, letter, phase of this journey, are that I am much more interested in preserving the content of letters than the physical artefact. Perhaps this is partly because most letters are manifested on very similar, relatively uninteresting, physical objects – sheets of paper. Of course, when a missive is transmitted in an unusual physical format, such as a rolled-up scroll for example, then I know that that did influence my keep/destroy decisions in the first pass I made through my letters 6 years ago. However, generally speaking I think I’m quite happy just to be able to access the contents of most old letters electronically.
Of course, letters and cards from people I am particularly emotionally attached to – such as those from my wife and children – are a different kettle of fish. I have a feeling they are the items that are going to present the biggest challenge as I try to slim down my collection of physical letters. On looking at what I’d written about my earlier experience of digitising my missives and disposing of many of the hardcopy versions, I see that I retained just over 400 letters and cards out of an initial total of about 1900; and that 131 of these were from my wife, 85 were early letters from my parents when they were in Singapore and I was at boarding school, and 31 were from my children. I see that I also identified the following four reasons for not keeping the items I disposed of. They were: embarrassing content, embarrassing event, not interesting or special enough to keep, and won’t fit into storage container. I wonder if any of those reasons will come up in the exercise I’m about to embark upon – if I manage to dispose of any items at all.