I don’t know why this popped into my head yesterday, but…handwriting. I like writing by hand, I like writing in cursive, and I have no idea why. Okay, maybe I have a couple of ideas…
I like the way it looks, for one thing. Mostly. There are people whose handwriting is nigh unto impossible to read, even if they print, but in general I like the look of cursive on the page (or the blackboard, or the whiteboard…). I went to high school with a girl who had the most beautiful Spencerian hand I’d ever seen live and in person. And I think I have pretty good cursive skills, although my writing isn’t nearly as neat as it used to be and was never, I must confess, as lovely as Spencerian.
My signature especially has suffered over time, and I chalk that up to my first few years at the investment advisory firm: every day, we would get physical printouts of all the trades done the day before, and we had to review and sign every last one of them before forwarding them to the banks. Which might not sound like much, but try doing it when you handle, say, a dozen equity accounts with 100 stocks in each one, and the asset manager decides to rebalance the portfolios.
After the first 50 or so signatures, it got hard to keep the same level of legibility. Believe me, I tried.
I also like the way it feels to hold a pen and write, to get into the flow and see what comes up on the page. I have favorite pens, or types/brands these days, since it seems to be getting more difficult to find refillable pens that don’t cost an arm and a leg. Mom bought me a gold (filled) pen-and-pencil set from Cross when I graduated from high school, and I loved that set, the pen in particular, to an unreasoning degree. Unfortunately, I made the mistake of setting the pencil down on my desk during an accounting class in my junior or senior year of college (after I changed both schools and majors, but that’s another post). I realized it a few minutes later and hot-footed it back to the classroom, but someone had already taken it. And the pen got left in Steve’s brother’s apartment in Jacksonville when we went there for brother’s wedding — the comedy of errors that was, Great Ghu! — brother claims he never found it, but for all I know he gave it to his new wife, which frankly would have been preferable to him selling it to buy recreational substances of dubious legality. Anyway, it’s been ages since I lost them, and it always made me sad.
You don’t know this, but I just wandered around the Internet a little while and found what looks like the exact set Mom got for me up for auction. Well, close, anyway; the seller says the mechanical pencil doesn’t have the engraving, but still. Very close.
Yes, I bid on it. I’ll let you know in few days if I win. 🙂 Because the thing with Cross writing instruments is they’re warrantied for life, and it doesn’t say the warranty remains with the original owner… Well, we’ll see what happens.
Of course, the down side is you can’t get refills for Cross pens in purple ink, or turquoise, so there will also be a place in my writing arsenal for the occasional Pentel R.S.V.P.
I had a fountain pen once, refillable with cartridges rather than ink from a bottle. Every now and then I consider getting a fountain pen (Neil Gaiman writes with them rather a lot, both first drafts of his novels — two (or more) pens with different ink colors, alternating by day so he can see how much he wrote on a given day — and at signings, and he periodically posts fountain pen neepery) but I think I’ll wait until I’m in a place where I can have a desk in order to keep everything stored nearby. But if I ever do, it will be peacock blue ink (or as close as I can get to that) FOREVER.
Creatively speaking, I sometimes find writing longhand can shake ideas loose, but on the other hand, I wrote two full-length novels on my first computer, sitting on a hassock at a makeshift desk, so that part is a tossup. On the other hand, it’s very easy to take a notebook and pen with me pretty much all the time. Not so much the case for the laptop.
And all of that is before you take into account that writing in cursive activates multiple parts of the brain in ways that typing doesn’t. (About the link: at the very end, the article writer has a promotional moment for his book. It’s still worth reading the article.)
To close, a minor oddity about me (stop it): I broke my right elbow in first grade, right about the time we were learning cursive. I had to wear a cast for three weeks, then a tensor bandage and sling for another three, and wrote with my left hand, which is so my non-dominant hand it’s a wonder I could read my own writing, let alone my teacher. The thing is, as soon as I was cleared to use my right hand again and started writing, my handwriting was better than it had been before I broke my elbow.
And in high school, I taught myself how to write upside down and backward. Fun for yearbooks, but not much use otherwise. Overall, writing in cursive: a good thing, and one that makes me happy.