On Penmanship…

As a whole, as a group of people, the world seems to have lost the art of penmanship. We live in a technologically savvy place; it makes sense that most people don’t have the time, patience, fill-in-the-blank to write by hand.

As much as I love writing, I hardly seem to pen anything lately. I used to journal way back when and then, as snooty as it sounds, I found that my hand couldn’t keep up with my mind and I’d lose things if I wasn’t typing. I used to write letters to a dear friend: I wrote him every day for nearly three years. We still write sometimes, but it’s hardly once a week and the letters are far shorter than they used to be. I write thank-you notes, but that usually only happens around Christmas, birthdays, and spontaneous shopping trips.

I wonder what is lost when we stop putting pen to paper? We seemed to lose calligraphy first, it seems, the use of artful script, the selecting of unique nibs and using heavy, formal paper. Then we lost the rest of it, and now the vast majority of human writing happens on cell phones, tablets, computers. Everything is virtual.

Somehow, that seems to make the writing less real.

On the rare occasions I write by hand, I’m often struck by odd musings. Like how I enjoy writing in cursive, or something like it. Like how I shape my ns the way my dad does…and my s-es, and capital Es. In other words, I have my dad’s hand. Which makes me wonder if handwriting is passed down genetically, inherited from one parent or the other. How do we learn to write the way we do? Will that change now that so much is written virtually? How does this work?

Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous detective often elaborated upon the personalities of other characters based on some scrap of writing he got hold of: will this art of reading people also be lost to technology? You can tell so much about a person by the way they shape their letters. I find that I’m often in a hurry to put words to page, and I have the playful habit of dotting my eyes with circles. In most aspects of my writing, I favor my father; does this say something about how close I am to him, or how similar we are?

Anyone with answers or opinions to my questions, write on.


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