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Sunday, February 21, 2010

Trying to Write Longhand

I’m writing this longhand. Of course, by the time you read it, it’ll be typed into the computer screen, but right now – this now – I’m writing, not typing. I’m gripping a Bic pen, writing on a legal pad labeled, ironically, “Efficiency.” Actually, it’s not so ironic, because I’m writing quite fluently, contrary to my own expectations.


I used to write longhand all the time, but decades of using a computer have conditioned me to compose directly on the keyboard. It used to be I found the pressure of the pen against my index finger and the warmth of the paper under my hand comforting. I found the bumps of keys under my finger pads and the glowing screen distracting. Now it’s the other way around.

Looking back over what I’ve written, I’ve discovered something: I have lousy handwriting. I’ve always had lousy handwriting, but decades of atrophied writing muscles have transformed it. It used to look like chicken scratch. Now it looks like cuneiform.

One of the great drawbacks to typing is the writing itself – the appearance of the words on the page – lacks individuality. Oh, I suppose you could use Claw Clarendon or Garamond instead of Times New Roman, even – if you have the stomach for it – Daisyland, a decorative font made out of little flowers. But since anyone else is capable of using the same font, there’s not much point. You can even write out the whole alphabet by hand, scan it in, and create your own font, so when you type, the letters would appear on the screen just as if you had handwritten them. The i’s can be dotted with little smiley faces if you prefer. The only problem is no one ever really writes letters exactly the same way twice. Looking back over what I’ve written, I can see I’ve formed the letter “e” at least three different ways. I’ve also written a “y” that looks like an “m.” Do not ask me how this is possible.

My hand is getting tired so I probably won’t keep this up much longer – which is one of the reasons I migrated to typing in the first place: more staying power.

“See what large letters I have written with my own hand,” Paul writes in one of his Letters. Now, there was a guy who had goofy handwriting and was proud of it.

Would the Bible have been better if the prophets had had word processors? Or just longer?

Maybe we should simply be grateful they didn’t text it.

“N D B GIN N GD SD…”

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