Pondering my Handwriting

Daily Prompt: Pens and Pencils

When was the last time you wrote something substantive — a letter, a story, a journal entry, etc. — by hand? Could you ever imagine returning to a pre-keyboard era?

I fantasize about writing with a pen—never a pencil. Always I would imagine myself sitting by an open window in the summer, inhaling the brine of the ocean down the road from my house (my fantasy house by sea) while writing a short story or a letter to some loved one. It’s a huge window and every now and then a blue jay or sparrow would perch upon its sill and chirrup at me as I write, encouraging me to continue with my thoughts. Whenever I fantasize about writing, it’s always handwriting, not typing.

The physical exertion involved in handwriting makes the act more personal, especially if it’s a letter or a journal entry being written. When I do write with a pen, it’s as if I’m leaving a part of myself on the page along with my thoughts. I think more exertion is required of us when handwriting, which makes the act all the more satisfying when completed. However, since handwriting is more physical, my hands are now out of shape since I do not handwrite often. Now whenever I write with a pen, I can only do so for a few minutes before I have to stop to rest my hand. These days I find it hard to imagine how writers managed to write hundreds of pages for hours by hand back in the day.

Much as I relish the convenience of typing, I do miss writing with a pen. I miss seeing my handwriting since I admire it and love to copy those of others (no, I don’t forge anything; I just like to try new things is all). To make up for the lack, I relegate lists and study notes to being handwritten. With those, I do not need to write quickly since it takes a while for me to recall what needs to be written on a list and a while to decide what should be placed in my notes. Still, such tasks do not occur often since my smartphone is usually in my hand, ready for me to tap in a note or take a photo of whatever I need to remember. (Lazy!)

But truthfully, I don’t think I can return to handwriting. Writing with a pen is painfully slow for me. My thoughts come at a whoosh, especially when I’m excited about a topic. But my hand moves at a snail’s pace when on paper, causing my thoughts to gallop by and leave my hands trailing behind. That’s why I type more these days. My fingers move so fast across the keyboard that at times it seems that my fingers hardly press the keys. As soon as a thought appears, I quickly corral it and transfer it to the screen. They hardly escape me when I type.

As stated above, I always write with a pen. I hate dull tips for writing so pencils usually irk me. When writing my short lists or long notes, I need a good pen with a fine tip. I like the letters to be lithe, though they hardly are unless I try very hard, and a fine tips helps to do that. Depending on my mood, I either write huge and bubbly with the lines barely able to constrain the letters; or small and tight as if the words are trying to hide or melt into the lines they’re placed upon. But usually my letters are in between, as you can see above. I really do admire handwriting. I especially like it when I find a handwriting that is totally unexpected of a person: like a macho guy who writes using curly letters or someone who’s high-energy and bubbly but has neat handwriting with small letters. I’ve seen such and for me they are surprising.

Although all things digital is becoming more pervasive, I hope that handwriting is something that will be maintained somehow. It’s not done often but handwriting is still necessary.

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