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WRITING IS THINKING WITH YOUR FINGERS
My days are sandwiched in darkness. Every morning shines a damp and lambent greeting from a rain-streaked windowpane. The street outside glows wetly, it brightens slowly with the cloud cover as the sun comes up and pales everything to a lighter shade. As I drive to work, quietly humming to the split-splat of water on the windshield and the swish-swish as the silver ribbons are wiped and renewed from the glass, the streetlights are just turning off. I've been barely taking 15 or at the most 20 minutes for lunch lately, it's been so busy and with the clouds hunkered over us silently dripping, I've had little temptation or will to walk. By the time I'm advancing down the pavement from the office to the car, I've pulled my hood up to keep the rain off and am drenched in darkness again, peppered only with the shine of streetlamps, those night-blooming blossoms.

Karin and Martin answer "Sushi!" with enthusiasm and tenacity to every casual what do you want for dinner? Eating out is a weekend treat, however, and unfortunately there is seldom any left in the fridge at work when I leave so my attempts to bring it home for dinner are most often thwarted. Tonight, when I arrived home, Anders was in the midst of preparing dinner for the kids. When I asked what he was making, he triumphantly declared, "Korv Sushi!" :D The kids had requested miso soup (which has been growing on them since their initially doubtful tasting) and he had rolled leftover rice into balls and carefully sliced up hotdogs to set atop them, with peeled and thick hexagonal cucumber slices as garnish. Needless to say, the kids were delighted.

How often do you handwrite anything any more? I used to assiduously cultivate my handwriting...I loved practicing the dips and swirly curliques of the letters that swept below the line and the scarfy wave of crossbars. Martin is learning cursive writing in school, but it seems times have changed or else his teacher is just weird. He was doing his homework a few days ago, writing out in cursive 3 sentences from a lesson and I stopped him several times and made him show me the mechanics of the way he was writing because it looked so laborious and overly complicated. It's always been my understanding that cursive handwriting evolved because it was FASTER and EASIER than block printing letters. But some of the letterforms he was so carefully tracing were definitely neither. When I asked him about it, and showed him a simpler, speedier way to write them, he said he was only following his teacher's instructions and her answer the next day to my question through him, was that cursive writing has changed since we parents (and by we parents, she apparently means the ancient, elderly, hidebound traditionalists of yore) learned it. *lifts one eyebrow, barely restrains eye-rolling action*

I'm glad they are learning cursive (of sorts) though, since I have heard that it's rarely taught nowadays due to the fact that children rarely write after a certain age. They type, instead. Although, it does not necessarily follow that they LEARN typing...at least not touch-typing like I did. But really, when I think about it, how often do I handwrite anything myself?
  • I jot down staples and necessities on the grocery list.
  • I keep a written, running to-do list at work, because it gives me such great pleasure to draw BIG RED WAVY LINES through the projects I finish.
  • I sign my name to things (and I have a moviestar signature, also carefully worked on as a teenager).
  • I address envelopes...once in a while.
Yeah. Not much else other than that, most of the time. Even when I'm writing poetry or journal essays I am most often to be found screen-front-and-center.

What with the blog and online journaling phenomenon, it does make me wonder how many people actually take the time to write WITH A PEN, ON PAPER anymore. For years I had a writer's callus on the first knuckle of the middle finger on my left hand from my overly zealous grip on writing instruments (and ink pens and paintbrushes). I get a wicked writer's cramp now, though, if I write for very long. What's worse: writer's cramp or carpal tunnel syndrome?

Like cursive was to handwriting, typing is so much faster and easier that of course it is to be preferred as the method of choice for getting our messages across, our ideas out there. And while pen on paper may be artistic and cozy and intimate and personal, it's a much slower and less accessible medium here and now than the clickity whipping of thoughts via keyboard through cyberspace to you. Catch!

Really Great Writing Out There Right Now: This Thanksgiving House

Bebopalula, It's Your Birthday! Beboppity Birthday Wishes to dbrus!
 busy
mood: busy
music: Marshall Crenshaw—A Few Thousand Days Ago


Comments

I also used to have a callus (but on my right ring finger since, as you may remember, I hold my pen the "wrong" way) that has long since disappeared.

I write a little more now that Ingrid is learning how. She'll ask me to write something out for her so I'll do it as neatly as I possibly can. Otherwise, it's shopping lists, the odd postcard, and notes to her teacher.

It's weird when I think of how much I used to write: notebooks full. Pages and pages!

i still write on paper, but nearly always it's stuff for my schoolwork that only i am going to need to see. well, no, that's not entirely true. i turn in handwritten assignments. but then, a lot of what i've written in those are equations and such anyway, which are usually easier to do on paper. but i also scribble notes to myself, or sort of think out loud about stuff, on paper. it's certainly not cursive though! it's a mess that gets recycled as soon as i make the pretty version on the computer :-)

You so often crack me up these daazze. Thanks. I need it.
And what a lovely thoughtful ramble about writing. My, just two and a half or so, short years ago (before I got my laptop) if a blank book journal lasted me longer than six months I knew something was wrong. I can no longer gauge my spiritual and mental health in that manner. In fact, I am backed up with these various cute little journals that I kept buying for awhile, though I rarely needed a new one.
But I Do, I do, I DO, write by hand... sometimes... most often on postcards! And birthday cards... And now and then when I force myself to do writing exercises.
But me, I tend more toward carpel and various similar pains when I handwrite! Tension flames up my finger, thumb, wrist, arm, neck. Darn. I LOVE handwriting... oh well...

oh, ps

I too had that callus. Mine was on the left side of my right middle finger at the top joint. If I rub sensitively along my finger I can feel where it used to be, now smooth as the other skin.

Re: oh, ps

I can still see it, in my mind's eye. Funny what we remember!

Re: oh, ps

Sure is.

handwriting

Kids in my county learn D'Nealean handwriting because it has tails so the kids transition to cursive easier. I hate it and it is a pain to work on handwriting with my DD.

I perosnally much prefer to type. Aside from a handwritten note to my DD's teacher (like an absence excuse) and notes here or there, I rarely write other than signing my name. My hands hurt too if I do write for a while.

PS Glad the miso soup grew on your kids ;)

Re: handwriting

I've never heard of all these different methods of handwriting. I'm going to have to google them all now!

How often do you handwrite anything any more?

Meeting notes. Scribbles to myself (lists and reminders). Records of conversation for work purposes.

If not for that last item, I think my handwriting would've completely devolved by now to something akin to Doctor-scratchings. And I used to be so proud when I could get those letters looking so neat there on the page!

I do purposefully force myself to write my Christmas cards, though. It's about the only time I do any personal writing any more and if I give that up all that will be left is me scribbling my signature whenever I write checks (and I don't even do that very often any more thanks to debit cards and automatic withdrawals and ATMs).

i handwrite a lot of notes when i read textbooks. my handwriting looks AW-bloody-terri-FUL! but then the things i write down are sciencey stuff that most people wouldn't bother reading anyway, so what does it matter.

every generation complains about how the children are taught to write, don't they? :-) (det var bättre förr...)

Does every generation complain about how the children are taught to write? I hadn't really thought about that. I don't remember anyone complaining about mine, but maybe I just blew it off with my snotty teenage immortal attitude. :P

Just yesterday at work I made the conscious decision to keep my telephone log by hand rather than computer just because it's my choice and I don't get to handwrite things enough. I spent about 30 minutes putting a little notebook in order for that purpose. It was pure pleasure and I'm going to enjoy writing in it.

I really am bummed to be missing sushi with you tonight. Raincheck? (Or will I see you Tuesday before the board meeting for sushi?)

I hope so. Just found out Anders is going to Germany next week which means I have to figure out something about the kids for Tuesday. ARGH!

When I was a teacher (2000-2003) I graded my kids on handwriting in grammar class. Every spelling test they HAD to write in cursive, and it was worth up to 5 points for correctly forming letters. They hated it at first, but the parents appreciated it. I taught 6th & 7th graders, and they all complained that they'd "never need it" outside of school. For what it was worth, I tried!

I'm glad!!

(Anonymous)

I think about this often as a first grade teacher--and I always come back to this: physically writing connects you organically with the inherent magic within the written words. It lets you do something that typing removes. It lets you BE for a split second a part of the word forming process. Learning writing formation helps pattern brain pathways correctly. Writing forms are powerful forms within our natural world--everything you can think of holds within it these shapes: spirals, circles, straight lines, waves. I want to teach my students to write because I see that it helps them in other ways: it helps them learn to be self organized. It helps them to have a stronger visual-spatial sense. Maybe none of these things have to do with actual writing, but they are all a by product of the process... Now as an adult I love, love, love the speed of typing. Yet I fall back on writing by hand in my notebooks when I want to creep into the realm of the unconscious, when I want to slip for a moment into a space that is more organic and heartfelt and less calculating and exact. Ask Martin's teacher which handwriting program they are using. The Zaner Bloser method is very easy, straight forward and yet still looks nice. There is also the possibility that Martin has gotten some part of the directionality wrong...

Oh, thank you for all that extra explanation. That really helped :) I think you might be right about some of Martin's directionality. He still occasionally reverses numbers so it's not a surprise that cursive causes the same thing.

I love the IDEA of journaling on paper...but good lord, my handwriting has grown so horrific that I can barely read my own writing sometimes. I can't tell you how many times I've come across a jotted note at work or in my purse...some reminder of SOMETHING...only I can't read it. I end up tossing those notes away with the thought, "Oh well, couldn't have been THAT important...and if it was, I'll soon hear about it!" I swear it hadn't occurred to me until I read your post that kids DON'T hand-write that much anymore once they're past the youngest grades. Kind of sad, isn't it?

It is sad. I think it's shame that letter writing has died out so much. E-mail is fast, but it's just not the same.

I walk around with a pen in my hand and a rubber thimble on my finger from the minute I get to my desk till I go home. I´m a jotter, I have post-its´ everywhere on my papers during the day. I jot things down to remember who called when and why. I jot things down to remember for the next day.

I don´t remember when last I wrote a really long letter, I also used to love writing poetry, and I loved practising my signature, it used to be long, now it´s gone down to two letters which entwine each other in cursive.

I find I remember things much better when I write them down, although it does help to have people send me email reminders as well. :) I'm notorious for writing notes to myself on the palm of my hand!

I jot down meeting notes and temporary notes, e.g. some computer settings that I need to configure but have to restart the computer inbetween. Sometimes, I write down to-do lists and try to collect my thoughts when planning a new project. I still find that kind of planning works better in hand writing than in a word processor or likewise.

But I never use cursive style, not in the pretty sense at least. I could probably do it if I desired, but it is slower than other scribble and because what I write down almost always is of a temporary kind, there is no need to make it look neat. As far as I remember, in grade 4-6 cursive style was required when you wrote your stories and essays. Then, as we got older, we were allowed to write more freely. It means I may not have been required to use cursive style for 20 years.

(Anonymous)

I'm in a bit of a rush so i didn't read all the prior comments and someone may have already mentioned this before... but apparently you can loosely judge a person's age and education from their handwriting as different methods and different sorts of characters have been taught thru the ages. Don't ask me where I heard that... I have no clue. It's just one of those weird little things that gets lodged in my brain and occupies space for all time. :D

I love handwriting.... I love "practicing" my own and examining other peoples. I love how you describe refining your dips and curliques... I still do that! And I'm always sort of stunned by how different my handwriting can look over the course of a day. But my "truest" hand looks so much like my mother's handwriting, people have often confused them. This is perhaps not surprising when I think back to how diligently I studied her handwriting when I was just learning and how carefully I mimicked her individual flourishes and rhythms. Now, if you compared the two side by side, you would certainly see they are different... the Ms and Ws and Fs and Ss are very different. But there's a definite similarity in the weight and movement and general sweep.

Fascinating!

xo Wee

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