Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Is the handwriting about handwriting on the wall?

On January 23rd, National Handwriting Day was observed.

Not surprisingly, National Handwriting Day is sponsored by those who will stand to benefit from a national focus on handwriting. Here it’s the Writing Instrument Manufacturers Association.

Writing Instrument!

What a charming notion, what a quaint name. None of this boring “Pen and Pencil Manufacturers Association” stuff.  And it’s no surprise that these folks have an association: pens, pencils, and markers – errrr, writing instruments – is a $4.5 billion industry.

The purpose of National Handwriting Day is to alert the public to the importance of handwriting. According to WIMA, National Handwriting Day is a chance for all of us to re-explore the purity and power of handwriting.(Source: WIMA)

I don’t know about the purity and power of handwriting, but I love to open the mailbox and find something that’s actually addressed to me by an honest to goodness human being. Like everyone else, I live by the e-mail and the text, but there’s something about a card or a note with a stamp and your handwritten name on it. And I believe that it’s as blessed to give as to receive. I send an awful lot of cards over the course of a year, and most of them include at least a bit of a note. And while I didn’t explicitly celebrate National Handwriting Day, I did send a friend a sympathy card (with long note) on Friday, and a hand-addressed birthday card (with brief note) to my aunt.

WIMA sponsors National Handwriting Day every January 23 in conjunction with John Hancock’s birthday. Hancock was the first to sign the Declaration of Independence and is famous for his large, bold signature.

Well, I may not have a particularly large or especially bold and Hancock-ian signature, but it’s not bad. (Thank you, I suppose, to a long line of penmanship torture nuns, starting with Sister Aloysius St. James.)

According to WIMA:

The lost art of handwriting is one of the few ways we can uniquely express ourselves. There’s something poetic about grasping a writing instrument and feeling it hit the paper as your thoughts flow through your fingers and pour into words….Handwriting allows us to be artists and individuals during a time when we often use computers, faxes and e-mail to communicate. Fonts are the same no matter what computer you use or how you use it. Fonts lack a personal touch. Handwriting can add intimacy to a letter and reveal details about the writer’s personality. Throughout history, handwritten documents have sparked love affairs, started wars, established peace, freed slaves, created movements and declared independence.

I’m sorry to say that grasping a writing instrument hasn’t made me feel like a poet or an artist, but I do agree that fonts lack a personal touch, even if you do choose one of the more off-beat ones, like Broadway or Boopee. (Personally, I’m a Calibri kind of gal.)

It does seem a shame that so much of the above good stuff like love affairs and movements  now happens via Facetime or texting. LOL…

By the way, there’s more to know about writing instruments than you might have imagined, including:

An unpainted pencil inserted into the soil of a potted plant can eliminate mealy bugs on plants.

Seeing a pencil in your dream indicates that you are making a temporary impact in a situation. It may also suggest that a relationship may not last long.

Not everything that there is to know about writing instruments is good:

Comedian, actor and educator, Bill Cosby is the most famous pen enthusiast in the world.

Time to update the website, WIMA.

And time to start lobbying schools about teaching handwriting – if you’re not already doing it.

I really do believe that kids should learn how to read and write cursive. After all, someday there may be a letter they want to read or write. Someday there may be notes they want to take. And someday there may not be an electronic device to capture the moment.

Sadly, I suspect that cursive will go the way of Beowulf-era English.

I’ve written about penmanship in the past:

This Is a Specimen of My Best Palmer Handwriting…and The Lost Art of Penmanship: Cursive, Foiled Again, in which post I wrote:

When I see anything that was written by either of my parents, by my Aunt Margaret, by my grandmother, I am moved and feel connected in a way that I would never be if whatever it is - it doesn't even have to be a personal message  - had been typed up. (Nothing like picking up a recipe card in my mother's hand to get me going...)

The list of handwriting that gets to me is growing.

A couple of months ago, I got a birthday card from a friend. I had never noticed before how closely her handwriting resembled that of my dear and wonderful friend Marie, who died in April. When I saw my name there, in Marie’s handwriting, I let out a little gasp.

Today would have been my husband’s birthday. Nearly a year after Jim’s death, whenever I pick up anything with his writing on it (always in red ink, often in printing rather than cursive) my heart stops.

There really is something about the handwritten word. I hope that we won’t be seeing the handwriting on the wall about it anytime soon.

1 comment:

trixie said...

I agree. I have a few "Diggy" notes that I've found around our house - red ink of course - and can't bear to throw them away. I also have a serving bowl of Ma's that has her name written (in her awful handwriting) in masking tape on the bottom of the bowl. There's no earthly reason I need to keep it there, and yet I do.