Today it is National Handwriting Day! I couldn’t let this date go by without saying something; not so much about the day but about handwriting.
I love writing by hand. There is nothing like the feel of a pen and paper in your hands. I am so crazy about it, I collect handwriting tools such as antique replicas (can’t afford the originals) of writing implements, old journals, new journals, calligraphy sets… I also get them as gifts from my family who is well aware of my obsession with handwriting.
Being an older woman I just recently started writing electronically. Yes, I have been writing research papers and emails and all that jazz in the computer for a long while. Having always been mechanically-inclined I never had trouble (like other people of my generation) with the electronic world. However, I kept handwriting my short stories and my novels in paper until this past year. Maybe because it kept bringing me back to when I was a kid and the time I first fell in love with writing.
I remember it clearly. I think I was in 2nd or 3rd grade and until that day, I had been writing in pencil. We were living in Angola at the time and I was going to a small parochial school. My dad bought me a fountain pen because I had been admiring his for the longest time and because back then, children were expected to be able to write in ink from a very early age. That was the best gift ever. I must have wasted a whole pot of ink that first week. I remember having a blue ink-stained callus on my right index finger from writing so much. Mind you, all I did was copy stories and practice my spelling words but it was so much fun; it was like magic, watching the nib slide on the paper and leaving a thin stream of silky blue ink behind. I wrote my first poem shortly after that and I have never stopped writing since.
As a young teenager I had pen-pals around the world and I wrote weekly copious letters both in my native and other languages. To check your mailbox and find a letter was like Christmas morning. I can’t even explain the feeling. The envelope held a surprise of sorts since you never knew exactly what your friends had written inside. Sometimes there was a photograph or two with the letter, sometimes a postcard… but it was always exciting and new.
I love writing. Period. But there is something truly magical about handwriting that keeps me buying notebooks and pens at a time when I mostly do my writing electronically. I don’t think I will ever get over my love for the handwritten word.