I read a post the other day on coming east titled The Most Immediate Breath of Life.  Susan’s topic was her collection of her parents’ letters and what a wonderful history of two people’s lives the letters provide.  It was about the extinction of handwritten letters.  In searching the web, I found articles on the extinction of cursive, that sometimes beautiful mode of writing that I never quite mastered as a boy.  There are even articles about the demise of handwriting entirely.  Tomas Quinones wrote of taking a writing class in which the teacher required all drafts to be handwritten.  Some of the students could hardly write anything legible, he said, and claimed they were never taught to write in cursive and did all of their writing assignments and notes on a laptop since they were in kindergarten.   I suppose you can’t stop progress and you can’t stop technology, but still to those of us with Older Eyes, it’s sad.

I’ll admit that blogging for three years has dramatically improved my ability to go easily from brain to keyboard but when I really need to work something through … not just personally but as a writer … I find there’s no substitute for putting pen to paper.  Note: pen not pencil for reasons that I will expound upon shortly.  Personally, I prefer a fountain pen, not because I  like ink all over my fingers but because way the nib of a good fountain pen glide across the paper opens up the brain … and heart … to paper connection.   So, here are ten things that happen when I write on paper in ink that don’t happen as I type.   I actually considered handwriting this entire post but even Older Eyes cursive has degraded to the point that no one would wade through an entire post.

Yeah, I’m old … and old fashioned.  I know you can do most of this stuff with your computer.   Maybe the next generation will have the same relationship with their phone that I have with my fountain pen and paper.  But I don’t think so.

What do you think?

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13 Comments on “Handwritten”

  1. marjulo Says:

    I noticed this trend with my children. My younger daughter never uses cursive. My younger stepson, back in the eighties, was allowed to use a computer instead of handwriting his English assignments because his handwriting was so bad. I’m very glad that my grandchildren are writing. My granddaughter uses a computer easily, but she handwrites her stories and assignments first. I tend to write my blog posts directly, without handwriting them first. Whether that is good or bad I cannot say!

  2. Coming East Says:

    Thanks for mentioning my blog, Bud. Very kind of you. I wonder how young people write their signature if they’ve never been taught cursive? I think your handwriting says so much about a person. I can write in cursive nearly as fast as I can type. Is your fountain pen the kind with the cartridge? Do. They still make any other kind?

    • oldereyes Says:

      I actually collect fountain pens, but most will accommodate either a cartridge or a fillable reservoir. Purists are inclined to say “If it doesn’t suck ink from a bottle, it’s not a real pen,” but for me it depends on the autofill mechanism whether I use a cartidge or not.

  3. territerri Says:

    Funny. I just came from another post about “hand” writing and its relationship to writing.

    I always took pride in my writing when I was in school. I was meticulous. I had the time to do it right and do it again if necessary. I don’t always have that luxury these days. Now my writing shows when I’m being careful and when I’m rushed. And there is a very distinct difference in my cursive vs. printing. I print in very tidy, capital block letters. My cursive is loopy and inconsistent when I’m rushing. Over the years, I created my own variations on the form of the letters. I’m sure Sister James Francis, my 6th grade teacher, would have a fit over what I’ve done to the alphabet.

    I have a hard time writing by hand when I need to get my thoughts down. My brain is always miles ahead of my fingers, so I find that the keyboard is more accommodating when my brain feels creative. But when I do hand-write, I prefer one of those rollerball ink pens.

  4. Your handwriting isn’t bad at all! I find that if I write things out longhand, my hand cramps up. Fortunately I was taught good penmanship and have retained it for the most part, calling upon it to write checks (I still write checks) and notes for mailing. But for me, when it comes to “writing,” it’s the computer or bust. I actually start to crave typing. I like being able to edit it without the page getting messy with crossed-out words and things written in here or there.

  5. My penmanship -way back in the day when it was an actual class in elementary school -was never the best, certainly wasn’t a good model of the Peterson method by which we learn cursive from making a kazillion circles going in different directions. Today, my writing is much worse and I tend to avoid it like the plague mainly because I get cramps in my fingers within 5-10 minutes after trying to write anything legible! But, to not teach cursive anymore I do believe is a big mistake for all children. First, everyone should have to endure the methodology of Peterson Penmanship classes but seriously, as mentioned in one of the above postings, how will these non-cursive educated young people know how to even sign their own names then?

    • oldereyes Says:

      I have probably built muscles of steel through years of writing so I don’t cramp. Part of the deal is I just love the feel of a good pen gliding over paper.

  6. I love handwritten notes, cards, letters, it is a part of the individual, like the inflection of their voice. I can recognize my mother’s handwriting as well as others, it is personal. I learned cursive writing, which I remember my teacher telling me WAS writing, otherwise I was printing, wouldn’t even let us use the term cursive. I picked it up quickly and loved the beauty of the written word.

    My children were not encouraged to learn it, teachers telling me it was too difficult for some students so the emphasis was instead on printing only. Because we also homeschooled through some of their years of education, I tried to teach them later on without much success (at 10-12 years old, that was not a hill I chose to die on). Thankfully, they did pick up a love for words and language, so they refuse to abbreviate words when they text.

    The upside of a keyboard is the rate in which word meets the screen. The downside of the keyboard is the rate in which word meets the screen. Handwritten thought gives opportunity for contemplation, reflection, consideration of what is being shared.

  7. undividing Says:

    Good morning Bud! Your post is making me wish I could be writing you on a good old fashioned piece of paper, instead of the comment section of your blog 🙂 I LOVE handwriting things, and have for years. I have probably 20+ journals in my room, full of thoughts and prayers, joy and heartache. The biggest shift for me came when I had my son. Suddenly I wasn’t able to spend hours sitting alone with my thoughts, taking the time to think through things and come to conclusions slowly…it became a race to finish getting all my thoughts out before the baby woke up! I switched to journaling on the computer for a while, but I just couldn’t stick with it, it wasn’t the same. For me, there’s something about the way the pen feels against the paper that is so therapeutic!

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