Hand Writing

I’m aimlessly flicking through internet pages.  Feeling disatisfied.  I don’t even know what I am looking for, but I know there is something I need.  What is it?

My eye drops down my screen to my keyboard.

Ah.  That’s it.

I want to write.  Like an itch that wants a scratch.  Writing scratches the itch, but have I lost something in the switch to typing?  Is it the same for the reader?  Things written by hand make you feel so much closer to the writer, don’t you think?

It has always helped me, to write, whichever way I achieve it.  I used to keep journals.  One of which I considered, at 16,  to hold such sensitive material that I triple bagged it and buried it in the garden at my friend Anna’s house.  It didn’t. In retrospect.  It makes me smile that I was so anxious not to have documentary evidence… but still couldn’t destroy it! I have almost all of the rest of them. I even have a journal that I wrote to when mum passed away.  I couldn’t bear that she couldn’t hear me anymore, so I wrote words to her, just in case she might be able to read them from wherever she had evaporated to.

It worked for a while.  And then one day I just knew she wasn’t reading.  I stopped writing to her.
Well, not quite. “When I half turn to go, yet turning, stay…” (Christina Rosetti).
I still write in that book once a year.  On the anniversary of her leaving.  I take it to the place where her plaque is; pull weeds, leave flowers, write words and think about how preposterous it is that I have managed another year without her. The words are usually smudged by the time I am finished telling her what has happened in my year, but they’re out.  Sent on their way to find her, if they can.

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I don’t keep journals anymore.  I blog.  Which has a bit more direction, a purpose beyond the navel gazing emotional torrents of my adolescent angst.  It keeps me distracted from the ills of being ill; for the most part.  Which is interesting because I am generally blogging about being ill! I really love having a place to write, and people who read it.  It does my heart good.

But I wonder, will we leave behind any non-digital documents for future generations to find?  A sad thought whispers across my mind. Probably not.  How will our children find files of our writing if they don’t know where they are stored? If the passwords are gone with the time since they were used?  If the technology is obsolete? What will they extrapolate of our personalities from the fonts we chose?  Will they see us through the mass produced glyphs on the page?

Writing (and a love of beautiful penmanship) must be hereditary.  We’ve been sorting things out in a bit of a Spring thing around here.  The hubster hired a skip to dispose of the construction rubbish and then we thought we should do a cull.  Nothing like some time pressure to make you ruthless!  Getting rid of things is only possible for me if I get to hang on to some things too.  Happily, I found just the sort sentimental bits and pieces that rose above the rubble into ‘keeper’ land.  My grandmother’s school essay folio was there.  Some of my Mum’s old exercise books.  Those journals of mine.

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I rarely write by hand anymore.  Typing is almost a direct conduit from my brain, so it is easier.  But I have recently joined a ‘Snail Mail’ collective.  Like a group of pen pals who send each other real letters!  Astonishing.  So I’ve been actually hand writing a bit more lately.  Seeing the handwriting of my Grandmother and mother again, makes me think about the importance of writing by hand.  About the personality contained in unique letter formation. It’s an art.  Individual and special.

When did you last write a letter or a journal entry?   Do you think handwriting matters? Do you write like your mother or grandmother?  Do you keep cards and written mementoes?  Am I a sentimental old fool?

10 thoughts on “Hand Writing”

  1. Rach
    My parents both had exercise books floating around displaying the rows upon rows of neat letters, joined together with the flow of true handwriting.
    They were lost during fires and earthquakes, but since I was home schooled its ok… I have my own such exercise books preserving my own nicely linked alphabets.

    I am quite likely the queen of sentimental folk, I have pretty boxes full of past birthday cards, letters I received as replies to letters I sent. I also have some precious card my grannie gave to my mother as a child, the only piece of her I really have. There is something special about a hand written card or letter and I make a point of doing either as often as I can. I even try to make sure I write rather than print-especially to my school teacher Aunt!
    Anyway, I’m not sure where all that drivel came from, but no, I certainly do not think you’re a sentimental old fool-for if you were, I would be 10 times worse I fear!

    1. They’re so special, aren’t they Felicia? I just love finding things my Mum wrote to me, and there she is again, her voice in my head and her letters in my hands. So beautiful. I’m glad I am not the only sentimental one!

  2. Handling a new notebook and writing – such a lovely feeling. My handwriting was always good but the less I use it now the worse it starts to look.
    I had the same journal as the one in the middle of that stack.
    Those angsty years – weren’t we soooo overwrought?? Dear diary, boo hoo…..
    My grandmother got a job based on her penmanship. Those days are gone.
    And there’s still nothing better than a card in the mail is there?

  3. I am so happy that you’ve joined our Snail Mail group Rachel. I can’t wait to read your words. I love reading your words. I actually still keep a hand written journal and many scrapbooks to pass down to my kids. Whether they care or not is another matter. I’ve also been practising my calligraphy skills. I love writing by hand. It is an art form. I am also a chronic hoarder and have kept so many notes and greeting cards it is bordering on the ridiculous. God help me if ever we have to move house.

    1. You are my kinda gal, Deb! I love calligraphy! I got a calligraphy set for a christmas gift the year I turned 12. Hours of fun, stained fingers and calligraphised shopping lists, school diary entries… bahaha. It was my ‘thing’ for quite a while. I must see if I can find my pens… 🙂

  4. Rachel! What a gorgeous post (to read AND to look at – fab photos my friend!). I have a huge collection of notebooks that I have double bagged in the bottom of a chest of drawers. Some bits are more personal than others. I wrote a pregnancy diary with my first child and even drew a picture of what I thought she’d look like (and I didn’t know it was a she) and it looked alot like her too! All the courses I do (and you know how many those are!) I start a handwritten exercise book or journal instead of just printing out pages of lessons. I find that if I read and write things down myself, they become more meaningful to me. Looking forward to the Snail Mail project too x

    1. I was so struck by your comment about looking at pictures. It percolated for ages before I had something to take pictures of that I thought could do ‘pretty’ some justice! thought of you with a smile when I posted them, Karen!
      That is such a great thing to have, your first pregnancy journal. I think your idea of recording all the course stuff is great too, and I haven’t forgotten ‘pocket’! I am definitely a ‘write to learn’ type of girl, too.
      I am working on your letter, Karen! 🙂

  5. I very rarely pick up a pen, I almost struggle to sign my name the rare times it is required! It is my goal to complete a 1st year album for my son and everyone keeps suggesting I do a digital version or one of those albums with pre-populated pages. But I am determined to create a sentimental masterpiece of hand clipped photos and notes from his first year! My mum did this for my first three years and I love reading her notes and looking at her handwriting!

    1. That kind of thing is so very special and so worth the effort Emily! I managed it for my first child, but to my enduring shame, not for my second! I must remedy that!! My handwriting has become so much messier since exercising my hand at it so much less. What a delicious age your boy is!

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