“Sending a handwritten letter is becoming an anomaly. It’s disappearing. My mom is the only one who still writes me letters. And there’s something visceral about opening a letter – I see her on the page. I see her in her handwriting.”
The other day I had to purchase a new iPhone. As I signed the contract the young salesman said, “Wow! That’s something I don’t see much of anymore.”
The puzzled look on my face must have prompted him to hastily add that he was referring to my beautiful handwriting. I wasn’t sure if I should feel pleased or old. I say this because it seems that fine penmanship has gone the way of the dinosaur- ill-suited for changing times and unnecessary in a world where a keyboard is available at every turn.
My love of handwriting began from the moment my grade 3 teacher introduced the cursive form to our class. I must have embraced handwriting because I won several prizes for my penmanship. Then in my teenage years I experimented with different styles and practiced by filling up page after page with my name and titles of my favourite books. I also loved to use a turquoise-colored ink. (Any baby boomers out there who remember that?) Over the years my own personal style has evolved and become part of my identity.
My penmanship has always been important to me. Maybe it’s because I remember my Gedo painstakingly writing out the church minutes in his beautiful script. He was proud of the fact that he received an education and his writing skills were evidence of that in a time when many people did not have such an opportunity. Maybe it came from my mother who had very graceful handwriting or my aunt who still guides the pen into beautiful loops and swirls.
I had never given my handwriting much thought but lately I have had many people compliment me on it. It appears that fine penmanship is something of a novelty these days. While others have given up on their writing skills, I have continued to hone mine. Greeting cards, minutes from meetings, shopping lists and casual notes are all treated as golden opportunities to put pen to paper. I also find that my ideas flow better when I have a pen in hand, so all of my draft copies are handwritten.
Unfortunately cursive writing is no longer a priority in most schools as keyboarding is seen as a far more practical skill. Maybe I’m old-fashioned but I miss the personal touch that comes from a handwritten note or letter, which no email, text or emoji can ever replace. For me, it will always be a way to recognize and know another person.
I hope society is not ready to completely write-off penmanship and the cursive form. Some private schools are re-introducing this exercise and according to home décor magazines, handwritten signs are quite popular.
I recently decided to try my hand at calligraphy. Who knows, maybe I can turn this lost art and my love of handwriting into a business.