I found this a very rewarding exercise. There’s something kind of cool in hearing what others think about a subject near and dear to your heart, and this one definitely was to mine. I LOVE to hand write long letters and journal entries. So I set off to visit six blog responses to The Daily Post’s prompt Pens and Pencils. I left comments on all six. Now I’d like to build a post around a couple of them.
In fact, I reblogged qL’s post, A Smear of Ink. qL made a comment that caught me unaware but was very true for me as well. “My private life journal has different privilege,” referring, of course, to typing as opposed to handwritten when it comes to writing something personal and intimate. qL went on to explain how a handwritten letter or journal entry retains the mistakes you make, the smears of ink from pressing hard with the pen, and also sentences you’ve left out that have to be added back in.
The point was, I believe, that you can SEE your life lived out on the page even as you’re writing. That’s a very beautiful idea to me.
qL also mentioned that’s one reason why criminologists use handwriting in their investigations. There’s a lot they can tell about your emotional state from how you write. Frankly the handwriting analysis thing has always concerned me a bit. My writing changes from one paragraph to the next depending on the emotions that are flowing onto the page. If I’m writing about something happy, my letters will slant to the right and be very fluid. If I’m sad, they will often slant left and be very sloppy. And if I’m angry, OML! I practically print with barely a connection between the letters at all. I’ve always wondered if a handwriting analyst would think I had a split personality or something! Hopefully it would be reassuring to them to know it’s just that I’m a Gemini and it depends on which twin is in control at the moment. Hm… Doesn’t really help my case, does it?
At any rate, I loved what qL wrote. I appreciated her perceptions.
In another blog post I visited, 79 Letters in a Box, Cameron was sharing about writing to his pen pals. He talked about the things a keyboard just can’t do. Pick up a pen and sign a name, fold a letter, stick it in the mail. “But most importantly,” he said, “a keyboard cannot recreate the nostalgic feeling of holding sheets of hand-written paper, reading through it’s contents and carefully studying the personal handwriting that make up the body.”
It all comes back to the same thing. There’s a physicality to holding a handwritten letter that connects reader and author. The writer held the letter in their hand. Their fingerprints are there given to you as a gift because they want to reach out to you in a concrete way. How often have I dragged MY box of letters out and reread them just to make me feel close to that person again.
My favorite handwritten memorabilia is a birthday card my son (all of 10 at the time) gave me some days after we watched the movie Mega Force where a retort was delivered after someone described a rattlesnake. At the bottom of the card were several sets of x’s and o’s with one much larger set. He’d drawn an arrow to them and written, “Ooo! That’s a BIG one!” I knew immediately where the line was from, and I felt very bonded with him over that stupid movie. (Ok, I really loved the movie, I admit it. Who wouldn’t like ogling Michael Beck in a skin tight outfit! Ah, those were the days…)
The truth is, I never throw cards and letters away, even the ones printed from a computer. But there’s always a special place in my heart for someone who has taken the time to sit down and write that very personal note. That is a rare gift these days, and a disappearing art.