A study in handwriting


[vc_row][vc_column width=”1/4″][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/4″][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/4″][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/4″][vc_column_text] photo by Olivia Bragg[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row type=”in_container” bg_position=”left top” bg_repeat=”no-repeat” text_color=”dark” text_align=”left”][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]I remember when I learned how to write. I remember seeing a crisp A, in all its perforated glory, take up an entire sheet of white copy paper. And we, Mrs. Vann-Hamilton’s kindergarten class, grasped crayons that fit too big in our hands, and traced it over and over. Green, colored wax trailing along the letter with awkward jabs and sharp turns. Then blue. Then yellow. We traced with every color from the box, five letters a day, and in six days we were done.

“I can write now,” I thought.

I scrutinized my rainbow letters with squinted eyes. “I can write now?”

I couldn’t write much of anything that actually meant something, but we all get there eventually.
And over the years I used handwriting to accumulate a nice little collection of “stories.” The sentences weren’t always coherent, but as a first and second and third grader with a pencil and paper I asserted my ability to tell something silently. It is an ability that we take for granted all too soon.

And now, as our society marches proudly into the future, the emphasis on writing, handwriting in particular, has grown weak. And I for one, do not want to stand idly by as our culture forgets how to manually construct sentences.

Technology, admittedly, has its attractive attributes. Text messages are convenient, emails are concise. Information tapped out electronically is easy and transportable, but handwriting is something I am not willing to give up.
[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][image_with_animation image_url=”4955″ animation=”Fade In” img_link_target=”_self”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/4″][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/4″][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/4″][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/4″][vc_column_text]photo by Caryn Corliss[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]Handwriting is an art, an art that nearly all of us are capable. An art that enables us to describe, express a sentiment in any form on any whim. Isn’t that worth holding on to?

We shouldn’t give up on that grand idea that transformed human life. Although, granted, most of my writing is done via keyboard, sometimes I’ll still choose to write things from pen. And when the ink stains across the paper, the way it smudges, the way you can see where I crossed out words instead of backspacing them, it’s honest. It’s human.

Putting pencil and pen to paper is important, especially when electronic communication simply won’t do. If you have something important to tell someone, you should write it down. You should fold the paper over and hand it to them with a ducked head and embarrassed face. You should suppress the urge to text, stuff it down and know that you only want to do that because it’s easy. But things that are easy rarely hold substance.

Besides, doesn’t a poem flow better when not clacked out? Poems are just a mishmash of thoughts. Fragments of sentences. Isn’t it easier to write one void the precision of a word document? The same way you wouldn’t play basketball on a football field. Now, I know what you’re thinking: “But you typed this column Caryn!” This is true. This is, in fact, a pixilated document.

But that’s not the whole story. Because the thoughts that are quickly jotted down before the bell rings, at night by the light of the lamp, are what resurface when I sit upright in front of a laptop. Sit cross legged on my bed, the numbers from the alarm clock-radio glaring onto the paper. A red smear of light. Blood from a battery.

I could have written these midnight confessions through a laptop, but I didn’t. Would it have made a difference? Maybe not. Do keyboards and illuminated screens strip away honesty? Well, no. But they do make for a different experience, and they pull forth a different kind of honesty. I’m more reluctant to chuck away what I’ve scrawled down on paper, more reluctant than highlighting a sloppy paragraph and deleting it with one press of a button.

And as utterly devoted as we are to our devices they don’t always reciprocate that uncompromised loyalty. Batteries die, computers crash. When technology stutters we get angry. Paper doesn’t flicker and turn black. Pens and pencils don’t vanish. We don’t always have to get mad.

Being able to transfer information through the generations with documentation, with stories, not only enables us to remember the past and improve upon it, but also instills within us a sense of wonder. A dream that transcends the barriers of open eyes. A written language, in its many forms and variations is more than symbols. It’s symbols that mean something, and when placed in the right order, they matter. Words, arguably, are what separate us from other animals. Words are what make us human. Technology, in all its splendor, is not. Handwriting isn’t mute, and it may not totally connect us to our past, but it’s the closest thing we have. Let’s not let go the thing that makes us unique.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]