Wednesday, August 15, 2007

The Writing's On The Wall...But Can You Read It?

I was skimming one of Mark Cuban's blog entries the other day, and found myself nodding my head, totally able to relate.

Of course, I do this often when I read his blog, because Cuban and I have so many similarities: We've got approximately the same net worth, give or take about nine zeros. He owns a basketball team; I own a basketball. He's the co-founder of HDNet; I enjoy surfing the Net. He's a technological genius; I own a basketball.

If you haven't already clicked over to it, the title of his blog post was, "I Forgot How To Write!" where he lamented his bad fortune when he was forced to take notes longhand—that's right, pen and paper style—in a meeting because he didn't have anything with a keyboard near him.

Relying so heavily on PDAs and laptops and other devices with keypads, Cuban literally found it difficult to scribble one letter after another.

While I don't have as many funky gadgets as he does, I've been in exactly the same boat when trying to write cursive letters. Obviously, a keyboard is my first option, both at work and at home, but I don't have a laptop (yet), so I'm not exactly mobile in that regard.

For as many years as I can remember, when I put pen to paper, I almost always print. I'm one of those people with the small-caps style of printing, and I'm pretty happy with my printing. It's always legible, looks pretty neat most of the time, and I can move the pen across the paper at a decent clip.

There are times, however, when cursive writing is the path best attempted, if you've got pages of stuff to write, for instance. And every time I try to write, instead of print, I fumble my way through the letters, improvising on some strokes, cheating on others and generally getting a rather sloppy page. Sometimes it's downright hideous. It didn't used to be so bad. (and, no, the handwriting sample isn't mine. I was too lazy to write one out, take a photo, crop it and upload I just searched for one instead.)

A buddy and I started using the small caps printing style way back in middle school, so I haven't had a lot of practice with cursive writing since then. Some, but not a lot. And lately...even less than that. And it shows.

I'm not saying I want to go back and re-learn cursive writing and practice it until my pages flow. I'll always opt for a keyboard, and for the small caps. But to quote Mr. Cuban, "I forgot how to write!" So sad.

My mom's got nearly flawless penmanship, and if you were ever to get a handwritten letter from her, you'd think you just opened to page 36 in a penmanship textbook. It's that good. And when my dad reaches for a pen, he produces really cool-looking small caps. I used to be able to do both of them fairly well, but I liked the look of the small caps a lot better, so I stuck with that.

And I've found that the skill I haven't used for so many years, has nearly disappeared. Maybe I need to enroll in an elementary class this fall.

But I don't think I'd fit in the desk.

"Letter writing is the only device for
combining solitude with good company."
—Lord Byron

1 comment:

  1. Before you go all Billy Madison on us and depart for the hallowed halls of JF Magee, consider this...

    I encountered your exact same ailment, a "cursive amnesia," so to speak. My handwriting has always been hideous but when I decided "hey, maybe handwriting a first draft would be fun," I discovered my utter inability to form cohesive words without the precious keys of my laptop...

    So I took a few days, slowed down my brain (tough to do) and thus my pen, and concentrated hard on making legible cursive. Two good byproducts of this excercise - I can write again (which is nice) and the materal I organically handwrote was some of my best prose in a long time. The act of really concentrating on the pen and the page took the weight off of that ever screaming internal critic.

    So, now, as agonizing as it can be (the ADHD kid in me wants to GO GO GO on my novel first drafts), I'm relatively determined to handwrite, cursively, my future fiction material. Again, my preposterous, infantile attention span squirms and wriggles sometimes while I do this but it's getting better.

    Try it! You may be surprised! Best of all, when you go write in coffee shops, as I do, you won't look nearly as pretentious... because there's nothing worse than a starving writer in a Starbucks!