Penmanship

published

I’ve been writing letters lately. I started, in part, because I was trying to “play” a game of De Profundis. That didn’t last for very long, though I prefer to think that I’m taking an extended breather, rather than throwing in the towel completely on that effort. It’s a neat idea for a game, and really challenges me to exercise my creativity in ways I don’t normally, so I’d like to return to the “game” at some point. The other reason I’m writing letters is because I want my recipients to have something tangible from me. Even if they don’t appreciate it now, I want them to some day be able to look back and appreciate the effort of putting pen to paper, and stamps to envelopes, and to have something physical by which to remember me. I worry, though, that I might be making it too hard for the recipients of my correspondence to read my thoughts, due to my atrocious penmanship.

I wrote all through middle school and high school, for both class assignments and personal pleasure. I only rarely typed things on the family computer. Even when I got my own computer and printer in my room, I only typed the longest of assignments. I actually quite like writing. Unfortunately, I’m not very good at it. My penmanship is abominable, and has always been so. I don’t specifically recall any guidance in the art of penmanship as a youth, so either my teachers were just happy that I could coarsely produce the correct characters, or there was no formal requirement for neat writing.

I’ve always admired people with neat writing. Most of my friends write in a tight, well-formed manner that is easily legible and does not consume inordinate amounts of space on the page. I’ve taken recently to looking at the penmanship of complete strangers, too, and it seems that the norm is for easy-to-read handwriting. Only a small fraction of the people I’ve observed have handwriting as bad – or worse – than my own.

Part of it, no doubt, is laziness. I’m lazy with the pen. I don’t want to spend the time forming perfect characters. My brain is much, much faster than my hand, and as I usually write extemporaneously, I want to get my thoughts on paper as quickly as possible. My rush to record my thoughts exacerbates the issue of my lazy handwriting, resulting in outright sloppy handwriting. I could easily pass my writing off as that of a doctor writing a prescription.

An aside: it was recently suggested to me that doctors intentionally write poorly so that they can claim plausible deniability in the event of malpractice suits. “That’s not what I prescribed!” might be a valid defense if the handwriting is not particularly legible. Whether this is true or not, it doesn’t help me. There’s little benefit to plausible deniability in most of my correspondence.

I haven’t received any specific complaints from the recipients of my letters yet, but it’s something that’s been bothering me personally for a little while. I’ve recently begun looking at tips on improving handwriting, though I haven’t enacted any of the specific suggestions yet.

I should probably go back to typing my correspondence, so that the recipients can actually read it!


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