Written in My Own Hand

Handwriting is something I love.  I probably should hve been  graphologist.

When I was in college, I took notes by hand.  I think this is still done, but it's more and more common to see computers in the classroom.  My nephew takes a laptop to class and classrooms are now equipped with SMART Boards that allow teachers to both write on the board or bring in typed text and manipulate them in real time.  No more chalk dust.  There's even a system where kids have electronic buttons at their desks that they use to answer multiple choice test questions and shows a graph at the end of each test of how the class did (not individuals, but the class overall) on the test.

Kids still have paper and pens and pencils for a lot of classwork, but most homework ends up getting typed.  I'm guessing that someday soon, there'll even be a way to have most classwork typed, too.

Even correspondence ends up being largely digital.  I used to write letters by hand.  Then, slowly, people stopped writing back.  Instead, I'd get an email.  Don't get me wrong, I love the convenience of email, the ease and immediacy of it, but I feel a loss that nothing is hand written anymore.  Even inviatations - mostly e-vites.

I'm not making a huge case for the formality of a hand written letter or invitation, but there is a touch of care there that I miss in the digital form.  It's just a small effort that makes me feel nice.  But that's not what I miss most.

I think the thing I miss the most about handwriting is what it says about the writer.  Not the words, but the script itself.  I feel the personality of the writer just by seeing the writing.  Even my own writing as it evolves over time tells me where I was when I wrote something.

I was going through some old notes from college yesterday - notes written strictly in green ink dispensed from  a Pilot pen - and even less than ten years ago, my handwriting was different.  Not hugely so, but somewhat.

I have letters from a friend of mine from our early 20s.  She's an artist and it shows in her letters.  She paid all attention to color and line.  She would occasionally make shapes with the words or colors on the page.  She chose her paper carefully and made sure that it was always compatible with her writing medium.  Sure, she did it because she knew it was cool looking, but it was more because she like to do it.  She liked to make it look a certain way.

I can identify all of her letters by sight.  Not only because they're beautiful, but because I recognize her writing - even as it evolved over the years.  It's a cool, fun connection to a person I love.

I also like that I can go back to my own notes and read things that I undeniably wrote, but that I can't identify with and would never have believed I ever thought if I hadn't seen the proof written in my own hand.

These little revelations about my thought processes at times in the past is the most fun.  The marginalia in novels I haven't read for years is particularly fun.  Perspectives on character and plot that seemed so definitive when I was 18 is much less obvious 18(ish) years later.

I type most of what I write these days because to write it out longhand and then transcribe it to a word processor is a waste of time.  But I still write letters - even though no one writes back - and I have a lot of notebooks where I keep ideas and outlines.  I do it because I like the feeling of the pen in my hand and the sensation of putting ink on paper.  I also do it because someday I'll look at the notes I write today and laugh or think WTF, man?  And it will be fun.


hannahjustbreathe said...

We are sisters from another mister, my friend. Because this is a post I could have written---preferably, in ink---myself.

Let's become pen pals! Like real, old-school, classic pen pals who write real, old-school letters. Oooo, 2010 project! :)

Dorothy said...

Yessss!! Pen pals who use actual pens!! I'm getting out my stationery now!