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Monday, June 14, 2010


My handwriting is still fairly bad, but I've been making sporadic attempts to improve it. A few years ago I adopted a modified italic script, which has become my usual writing. I hate the cursive I was taught in school.

Now my writing ranges from a scrawl to something nearly calligraphic, depending on how much attention I'm putting into it. I use mostly fountain pens with some roller balls. Almost never a ball point. I could do all my writing on the computer but I feel the need to write long-hand at least a little bit every day. The flow of liquid fountain paper ink onto the paper is very pleasing, the texture of the paper in relation to the nib and the ink gives you immediate feedback, visual and tactile. You know when something is not right.

This is not a metaphor for writing, it is writing itself as a literal thing: literal, meaning pertaining to the letter itself, not in the figurative sense of "non-figurative." Yet we call writing, also, the composition of words meant for the page, even if the writing is done by dictation or by digital means. Morton Feldman once wrote that finding the right fountain pen was one of his main compositional problems. I believe him. Somehow if I had good penmanship and a good desk to work at, all my writing problems would be solved.

1 comment:

pohanginapete said...

Most of my handwriting's with a fountain pen, and I find the right combination of pen, ink and paper to be crucial for the flow of words — if the physical flow isn't there (a thin, scratchy, skipping pen), the words remain elusive. The psychology of handwriting differs hugely from that of typing.

About a month ago I posted a photo that included part of a page from my notebook, and I was surprised (and admittedly flattered) to get some favourable comments about my handwriting.