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February 09, 2011

Done Much Writing Lately?

Margaret Maron

Much handwriting, I mean?

Images_5 If you started public school before 1960, chances are that your classroom featured  a foot-tall, poster that ran across the front wall above the blackboard.  (They were blackboards back then, children, not chalkboards or whiteboards.  They were made of slate and required felt erasers and sticks of white chalk.) The posters featured the ABC’s written in cursive:  white letters or a black or dark blue background.  As you moved from “baby” printing to “grown-up” cursive, you were required to study the forms and duplicate them on your lined paper.  Capitals touched the heavier top and bottom lines, lower case letters stopped at the fainter middle line.  (Is it coming back to you?) Images_4

Once the basic principles were learned by the second or third grade, most teachers never bothered with the chart again. We were exhorted to write legibly, but no more actual classroom time was devoted to penmanship.

100_1403 My mother was a product of earlier times and she had an elegant handwriting.  She used a Parker fountain pen with red or green ink and her letters had a slight backward tilt.  I mimicked her writing as best I could until I reached the 8th grade.  That teacher was a generation older than my mother and she decided we really needed to learn proper penmanship.  She had us flex our fingers and draw endless lines of spirals, then more lines of spikes, all in an even forward slant that flowed from our pens. Exercises

I was enchanted and immediately adopted that style.  I even went through a period in which I dotted my i’s with little circles.  Result?

When I’m writing Christmas cards, formal notes, or signing a book, my signature and
writing looks like the bottom part.  If I'm in a hurry or correcting a manuscript, it devolves to the top example.







Beautiful penmanship is a dying art.  Most kids today hold their pens in their fists instead of between the thumb and first two fingers.  Their letters can’t flow. 100_1395  Their handwriting  is actually hand printing and often no more legible than a doctor’s prescription, which, incidentally is a contributory cause of death for 7,000 patients annually according to Time Magazine, which quotes a July 2006 report from the National Academies of Science's Institute of Medicine:  “preventable medication mistakes also injure more than 1.5 million Americans annually. Many such errors result from unclear abbreviations and dosage indications and sloppy, illegible writing on some of the 3.2 billion prescriptions written in the U.S. every year.”

No wonder we’ve abandoned the pen for the printer.  I used to have a big knot on the first joint of my middle finger.  Now it’s perfectly smooth.


Look at the signatures on the Declaration o Independence:  all individualized, all legible.


Now look at these signatures.  Recognize them?






I’m told that when authors sign with nothing more than a wiggle, some customers ask that they sign the book a second time with a legible signature. (These are Earl Stanley Gardner, Agatha Christie, and Anne Perry.)

I guess handwritten letters are going the way of passenger pigeons and snail darters.  Even my own mother, who was otherwise a purist on the subject, admitted that she preferred me to use a typewriter rather than a pen.  “Your handwritten letters are too short.”

What about you?  Do you write anything other than shopping lists by hand?





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Hi Margaret,

I was always elected blackboard monitor - the worst position in class. Not only did the board monitor have to erase the blackboard and wash it down once a week, you had to clap the erasers and got to breathe in all that chalk dust. And you always got blamed for missing chalk. Brenda Welsh always nominated me, and Christine Covell always seconded her. One year Auntie-Mom told me to say, "I decline the nomination." That worked with Miss Lansing in second grade, but Miss Keany was not buying it. For being a smart ass, "bold little girl," in Miss Keany's words, I was sentenced to serve all four terms as blackboard monitor. You know me by now. :) I pitched the chalk at Brenda Welsh and her coconspirator Christine Covell. Then I grabbed Manuel Fonseca. We ran outside and clapped the erasers against Miss Keany's car windows. Then Manuel chopped up the erasers with his knife, and I threw them in the toilet. Manuel and I were suspended. His family moved back to Somerville. My family had a party for the whole of Billerica. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T8DoExqoQRU&sns=fb

Oh yeah. Forgot. Just iPad now. My main means of communication. It's great really accessible. I used to write, though. Not my best thing, penmanship. I recently read that they no longer teach cursive, and that when college students were polled, most said they couldn't read it but thought it was pretty. Miss Keany, of course, predicted this.

I've written twenty five novels, all by hand. Typing doesn't do it for me - I just need to be holding a pen in order to compose fiction. I use Harley Davidson fountain pens by Waterman, and my writing is pretty messy but legible. My teenage daughter types my work onto a computer. (I have to pay her - she doesn't do it for love!)
One weird thing - my handwriting when I'm making plot notes is completely different to my novel-creating handwriting. And no, I have no idea why!

Oh, sigh, how I remember the art of penmanship which, sad to say, is gone. The moment I saw those ovals you posted it all came back, clear as a bell. Today I'm afraid I don't take any pains at all - I scribble, write furiously, leave out words, oh, sigh. Thanks for the post, stirred up more than writing memories.

My shopping lists are written beautifully. It’s because I write them for my husband otherwise he won’t understand anything and will buy rat poison instead of milk. This is what I can say about my handwriting.
When people see me writing they usually wonder why I didn’t become a doctor, with such handwriting I had all the predispositions to be an excellent one.

At primary school a beautiful handwriting was important, for one badly written character your grade went down. Big deal.
After about four-five years the teachers considered that we were trained well and decreased their attention for the calligraphy. They were not wrong, it was very well implanted and I can affirm that most of my compatriots have a beautiful, very legible handwriting except such black sheep like me who knowing that their grades wouldn’t be affected any more started inventing their own handwriting. As result none can read me.

At the university when I was a writing during the exams (and in France most of them were 5 hour essay writing exams) I had to write very slowly to make sure that the person who would read me wouldn’t get annoyed and wouldn’t throw away my paper. The way I’m writing my shopping lists and post cards now.

And when I take notes during seminars or conferences people sitting next to me usually ask in what language I write.

I so clearly remember penmanship class when I was in 2nd grade! I endeavored to have beautiful handwriting right through high school. But now---ugh. I blame arthritis and carpal tunnel, but I think it's just laziness.

Is it possible that poor penmanship is a badge of honor now? The joke used to be that doctors had terrible handwriting, but now I think people actually aspire to illegible notes and signatures.

I'm disgraphic--I write letters backwards, upside down, you name it. Back in the day, they didn't know what that was, so I was "lazy", or "not trying". In 5th grade they bussed me to the high school for most classes because I was bright, but they put me in kindergarten "remedial writing". Thankfully, but the time I hit high school they'd let me use a typewriter for most things (different part of the brain is used), and by the time I hit college personal computers started coming along. Otherwise I'd NEVER get anything written. I have a stamp with my signature, otherwise I avoid writing at all costs. It's type or go insane...

Yes, I do remember the penmanship lessons so well! Nobody ever liked my penmanship, and I tried so, so hard to get it right (or get it write??) I practiced at home as well as in class.It was always a painful activity. Even today it actually hurts to write more than few lines.

I have always loved to write letters to family and friends who don't live near me. One of my siblings told me that whenever she received a letter from me she was excited to be hearing from me but knew that it would take her a couple of days to be able to decipher my writing. She said she was relieved when I got a computer and either emailed her or sent typewritten letters. (I notice that she still takes forever to respond, though, and I KNOW that my typing is legible.)

Paulina, I had a teacher in high school who automatically lowered my grade on all my tests, even when I would have otherwise had a perfect score, because she said my handwriting was so "messy". That STILL bothers me after all these years!

Ah, Margaret, I can tell we're close to the same age, just by your handwriting!

At Catholic grade schools in the 50's, every classroom had the cursive alphabet on a long paper strip above the blackboard, in case students couldn't remember how to form a letter, presumably. I remember an uncle complimenting me, in around fourth or fifth grade, for finally getting a handle on my penmanship. Of course, we learned the Palmer method of cursive, and some teachers took points off for illegibility.

It worked with me. In my 20's I used to hand address envelopes as a sideline business, and I was pretty good with calligraphy, too.

My oldest daughter, whose handwriting is a perfect blend of mine and her dad's, has beautiful handwriting (and she also made lovely calligraphies). Her two little sisters, much younger (the girls are now 40, 26, and 23), learned the D'Nealian Script method, which is more like italic printing than cursive. I spent so much time helping them practice that I can still write that way, automatically. But they have THEIR dad's round, crabby handwriting style, except they barely write; it's mostly printing.

Does anyone remember when the first PDAs came out, in the early 90's, and they used a weird sort of writing? My Smartphone also can use it, I just found the other day, and it took me back to a friend's frustration with trying to get her PDA to recognize what she was writing, one letter at a time. If she didn't form the letters correctly--and they were very oddly formed--it refused to notice her.

I barely write checks any more, although I was one of the last holdouts in the world, no doubt.

I'd also like to point out that, of the above signatures, it's much, much more difficult to emulate Earle Stanley Gardner's than either of the other two.

I once worked with a guy who routinely had his office staff forge his clients' signatures, and I got pretty good at it. (I think the statute of limitations ran out a long time ago, plus it was with the clients' consent.) The easiest are those with just a scrawl; the most difficult are those with well-formed, legible letters.

Deb, that's so unfair! I'd be mad, too.

Jen, guard that stamp with your life.

So funny, Reine, that you considered blackboard duty onerous. At our school, we thought it was fun to take the erasers outside, stand upwind, and clap them against a huge old oak tree. Got you out of class and outdoors. Tom Sawyer psychology, I suppose?
Interesting, Jill, that your subconscious makes you write diferently for different phases of your books.
Poor Jen, but you must have come out of grade school with some really interesting stories -- high school and kindergarten in the same year!

I was astonished at Christmas when I realized that none of the under 30 set used cursive at all, and found it quaint.

I still write handwritten letters and journals, and even write first drafts that was at times. I have to work hard to make it readable for others. And I LOVE getting letters in the mail.

My mother's handwriting is lovely. I wish I could post a sample. When I was engaged and met my future grandfather-in-law for the first time, he told me he'd seen a note my mother had written to his daughter. He said he could tell we were "quality people" because my mother wrote like a lady.

My own handwriting is okay. I hand write most of my short stories in a variety of journals and notebooks that I collect. I'm very picky about the paper and covers. I match the tone of the story to the kind of the notebook, which can be a problem if I can't find the exact right notebook or am unsure about tone. I'm really obsessive about this.

I'm sorry, what was the question?

I was born in 1964, but I still had those cursive charts above the blackboard. Maybe because it was a Catholic school, and they were left over from the 50's?

I still write pretty well, although your point, Margaret, about the callus from writing being smooth now is so true. I also had a dent on my middle finger, because I always held the pen too hard.

My husband has horrible writing - any time we have to fill something out, it's my job. He also used to have me write out posters that he used for training. He was so happy with electronic banking, because he doesn't have to write checks anymore. And Karen, I'm the last holdout - I still write them routinely to pay bills, although my sister is even more archaic - neither she nor her husband use a debit card, and she still writes checks for her groceries, etc.

And if you want a legibly signed book from an author, don't get one from Lisa Scottoline. :)

Oh, and Jill, I'm amazed that you write your books longhand. But I love them, so if that's what works, keep it up! And I'd be glad to type them in for you - I'll charge less than your daughter. ;)

Speaking of daughters, I also meant to say that I don't believe that I've ever seen my 21-year-old daughter write in cursive, other than her signature.

Being left-handed, I had to overcome that dreaded tendency to curly my hand above the paper...so I write without getting ball-point on my arm, sleeve,etc. Thank my mom for that, and the left-handedness (she bullied my teacher into letting me use the hand I wanted to, bless her). I do still write cursive a bit, on cards and checks, but I find it almost easier, and more legible, to print when I'm taking notes or leaving instructions. I have nice handwriting (as does my daughter, also left-handed) but when I hurry, I scribble. Then I can't decipher it :o)
Blackboard...I love the smell of chalk to this day. It was actually an honor to slap those erasers around in my school. The squeak on the blackboard still however makes my hair stand up! Thanks for the memories...and yes, I use the pc too :o)

I'm regularly complimented on my handwriting, although I usually print rather than write in cursive. I'm left handed, which for many people results in either extremely backward slanting letters or smudged illegibility. I learned to push the pen instead of hooking my hand around so I could pull it; on paper I'm neat and legible, but don't let me near a chalkboard because the pressure on the chalk always results in painful squeals (sometimes my own!). I also had a PDA and learned to write in that "language" - I picked it up very quickly, maybe something to do with that left-handed/right-brained thing. When I was about 12 I read that Leonardo da Vinci, another lefty, sometimes wrote backwards, right to left, so his words were a mirror image of "correct" writing. Of course I had to teach myself how to do that, and even now I can write backwards quickly and more legibly than most people writing the right way. They're always surprised when I hold up the page and they can read what I wrote through the paper. I still love to write. I have stacks of notebooks from school supply sales, and am constantly on the lookout for pens that write smoothly and don't smear. I even have a glass dip pen, although I don't have much occasion to use it.

Laura, in France we write checks (except when you’re in a store or something). When I wrote a check for my dancing club, the teacher scrutinized it for a while and asked me: “do you think they can read this in the bank?” Without knowing I kind of invented a new means to save money.

Being left-handed in the early 50s in grade school was torture. My parents insisted that the teachers let me tilt the paper to the left instead of to the right and that helped, but I am a messy writer. I prefer to use a keyboard for everything, and my checks are close to illegible.

How interesting, Sandi - the push vs. pull strokes. Never really thought of that. I, too, went through a period of trying to do miror writing. Takes a whole new set of brain paths to get into the swing of it, right?
Paulina, one of my French friends had a beautiful handwriting, but took me forever to decipher it. There was just enough difference in the formation of the letters to give me trouble.
I still want to know if kids are taught how to hold a pen or pencil. Is that fist grip taught or natural?

As a kid trying to take notes in school, I had a hard time figuring out what was important and needed writing down and what wasn't so important. It seemed like anything could show up on a test, even the most trivial crap. So I learned to write very fast and just wrote everything down. As a result of writing so fast, my handwriting is nearly illegible, sometimes even to me. I have to go back right away and fix things that look like a dog dipped his tail in ink. It's come in handy as a reporter, though.

My husband and kids also have horrific handwriting. And they all despise cursive and won't use it at all. My teenager can't even read cursive, which is just another little stab in the you-suck-as-a-parent gut.

My handwriting is so unreadable I've had checks sent back because the bank couldn't figure them out. I learned to write via the Palmer method -- that's all those curves and circles -- but the lessons vanished years ago.

Margaret, my soulmate! I have spectacular handwriting, when I bother and scruffy handwriting when I don't. Inside me is a frustrated calligrapher.

My twins are 3rd graders, learning cursive this year. My daughter (and her older sister) have lovely handwriting. My son? His only hope is to grow up to be a physician and yes, kill people with the wrong prescriptions. Is there some biological component here, some innate gender difference?

Recent conversation
Nana, I am so excited because next week we are going to learn cursive!
You may never use it again but it does mean you are more grown up.

Great blog!

In French schools the kids are taught to hold a pen correctly, but they don’t insist much if the kids resist. In Russian schools you couldn’t continue if you didn’t hold you pen normally.

Oh,I longed to be able to write cursive..I mean, I LONGED for it. And with a FOUNTAIN PEN. Being left-handed was a little problem, but I learned to run the paper instead of my hand.

But to your point, listen to this. In some Boston schools,they're not teaching handwriting anymore. Not teaching it!

OH! When I heard that, I ran to my boss's office, an suggested I do a news story about it. I got--the look.
No one cares, was pretty much the reaction. It's how the world is.

Harley, how interesting. In France the kids start learning cursive at pre-school. A bit early to my mind.

And, my handwriting is SO BAD (after years of taking notes and writing as fast as I can), that even *I* can't read it.

Really. I can't read my own handwriting. Which makes list-making kind of a problem.

Floobs, I'll think? What's floobs?

My Mexican Friend, Olivia, said that they were taught in grade school to adopt a "signature" that could not be forged. Her's was beautiful, distictive, consistant, unreadable and certainly not reproducabe.

I can write legibly (my children would disagree), but it takes forever and as I get more interested about what I am saying it turns into garbage...bless the keyboard.

LOL, Hank.

In 1994, when I was writing my first book I interviewed 130 people. 450 hours of interviews. On the phone. In about two months. I did take shorthand in high school, but I learned the least possible I could to pass the stupid course and then never used it again. So I invented my own kind of notetaking, leaving out most of the vowels. Which worked, as long as I transcribed the notes pretty soon afterwards. Otherwise I'd forget what the heck I meant.

Fountain pens were never my friend. I could never get the hang of using them without leaving blotches of ink everywhere, including all over myself. You could tell for a week after that I'd been having another stab at it.

Both my son (19) and daughter (29) learned cursive...my son when he was in second grade and my daughter in the sixth grade. She was supposed to learn earlier, but didn't like it, and the teachers at the "progressive" school she attended didn't make her (much to her dad's and my chagrin). When she went to a different middle school, her English teacher wrote on the blackboard in cursive, so she had to learn it then. Moving her to a different school was the best thing we ever did, for that and a host of other reasons.

When my friends and I were in junior high, we started putting little hearts over our i's. I guess we felt more freedom to mix it up once we moved up to seventh grade.


Perfect! I bought a new fountain pen on Monday and it is on my desk now. It is a Pelican Pelikano, a pen made to teach school children how to write. I found that using a fountain pen improved my handwriting. I stopped using cursive for anything other than a signature in college, much to my mother's dismay. I never had neat handwriting anyway and my printed notes are readable and I can take notes during meetings and still know what I wrote days later.

Princess one is learning cursive now. It is killing me. She gets spelling words wrong because the letters are unreadable. Princess two is a lefty like her dad. (Left on!) I am helping her teacher teach the lefties in the room. First rule for lefties, turn your paper way to the side. The top edge should be almost perpendicular to the table edge. This ends the curled wrist thing. I also used to use pens with faster drying inks that would not smear on your hand if you dragged through the words.

Karen, the PDA strokes were called Graffiti. It was the best thing Palm ever came up with. Back in the day there was the Apple Newton, a $2,0000 PDA that could read handwriting. Well, if you did the tutorials, and practiced a lot and corrected all the bad guesses, it could read your writing. With Graffiti, you learned to write in a language the PDA could read. I could write about 35 wpm in Graffiti.

My grocery list gets typed into the Blackberry. Then Splashopper sorts it by store.

Big Al's Pen Links: http://theportmans.name/index.php/Alan/Fountain-Pens/Pen-Links.html

The Students Guide to Good Penmenship: http://www.brighthub.com/education/homework-tips/articles/40169.aspx

Time to Stop Teaching Handwritting: http://www.good.is/post/stop-teaching-handwriting/

Oh Reine, you are such a character!
Both my sons, ages 21 and 23, print their signatures. Checks, legal documents, everything. Doesn't quit seem right.

I just learned a few weeks ago from my boss that cursive is no longer taught in the schools here. His daughter who is 11 doesn't know how to write cursive. This broke my heart! I always admire nice handwriting - Margaret, yours is beautiful. EVEN after signing a beezillion books, it's still beautiful, which I find amazing and lovely.
I had an aunt, my Aunt Belle who just passed away this past year on my birthday at age 96. She and I carried on a correspondence from the time I went away to college until she died. Her handwriting had deteriorated over time, but not as much as you might expect. It never ever failed to make me smile to find one of her letters or notes in our mailbox.
I do have some family members that I will pen quick notes to in a card, but admittedly, use email almost exclusively to keep up with my friends now (i hate the telephone).

The bump is gone! Margaret, I never knew it was/is missing until you mentioned it. Mine was on my right-hand ring finger though, because I have an odd writing technique.

I frown at authors who don't pay readers the respect of giving them a decent autograph. :( Shakes reproving finger, and frowns!! It's one thing to have bad handwriting; it's another to call a squibble and a straight line a "signature."

I actually have neat handwriting - and it's a good thing because I still write on the board in class. They are no longer chalk boards - they are now the dry-erase white boards.

I love doing calligraphy, but I rarely have time to do it.

I think they have given up on cursive in our schools. These kids type everything.

Margaret, I forgot to tell you earlier that your "formal" penmanship is beautiful! That's what the nuns tried so hard to teach me in grammar school. I love to read anything written in that style - it is so easy on the eyes.

By the way, I do still write out checks but in recent years I have learned that I need to spread out my bill-paying over the course of the month; otherwise, by check number two I can't understand my own writing.

I love buying new notebooks or journals. I imagine how neatly and precisely I will fill them - and after the first page or so I'm not sure what I've written. I probably don't need to worry what someone might think of me if they find my journals after my death!

I have trouble with understanding my grocery lists. A couple of weeks ago I crossed something off my list for some reason. I don't remember if I couldn't find exactly what it was that I was looking for, or if I was running out of money (I pay cash for groceries, never use a debit card, etc). I always check over the previous week's grocery list when I go shopping to check on what I might not have been able to find/buy the previous week. I am trying to figure out what I meant when I wrote what looks like "stevedore"!

I'm NOT proud of my illegible penmanship. It really annoys me that I just can't get it to look the way I want it to!

I remember sitting in elementary school and using the inkwell at my desk..cue the theme from "Little House on the Prairie".
We struggled on inferior draft type paper with pen and ink and made holes in the paper while learning cursive.
A treasured gift that my mother gave to me was a luxurious Sheaffer pen with cartridge. It was beautiful.
I collect notebooks also and write down my goals and dreams and (cough) unpublished manuscripts.
Imagine my joy when I discovered the cursive font on my computer. I was swooning for days.!!

Graffiti! That's it! Thanks, Al.

PS Those pens are gorgeous!

When my girls were little their pediatrician--a woman--had the best nurse. I ran into her at a craft fair a few years ago. She was selling hand-crafted wooden pens, exquisitely beautiful, in all sorts of exotic woods. I bought one for my daughter, who has probably never used it. Wish I'd kept it. The wood was silky smooth, and would be a joy to write with.

• When I nannied (if a noun can be verbed…) my 5 yo charge came home from school to tell us that she was learning kerchief writing.
• When I was partners in a restaurant, I wrote the menu on the white board because my partner was left-handed. I've always had good penmanship, whether cursive or lettered.
• I recently designed a blog banner for a friend's new business and used a very clear script title. She was amazed when her friend's said that they couldn't read it. We went with a plain sans serif type so they weren't discomforted. I'm not bitter.

Even though it was mid-sixties, I remember seeing that poster while learning cursive. My teacher also had an old book that had a little story to go with each letter (would love to find that book). Later, I became interested in calligraphy, which improved my writing. I've received compliments for my writing while writing a check. I write some fiction and my notes to preach from, and I always start by writing by hand. It is handier and there is a feel that cannot be duplicated.

Loyd, when my middle daughter was in third grade she wrote a charming little book about the letter Q. My husband poached it and created an entire series of educational video clips for elementary students for Discovery that is now one of their most popular streaming videos.

I was in elementary school in the fifties, and we all competed for the most decorative handwriting. I also worked in schools, so I became really good at printing. I still write notes, and checks, because they're faster than messing around with the computer. I know I sound like a Luddite. The schools are now requiring that essays and papers be computer written. They have labs for the have nots. The times, they are a-changin'

Ah Margaret, the most significant thing about blackboard duty being onerous at our school was that it meant that you would never be anything but blackboard monitor, not even the person who took the lunch tokens to the lunchroom. Blackboard monitors had to use "class fun time." We didn't get to go outside during arithmetic or even music. We went out during game time or worse, during the winter, indoor recess. It was how the popular kids punished the kids who were definitely not. :)

Oh, Reine! How mean of them. You were totally justified in acting out. Injustice hurts so much when you're a kid.
Thanks, Kaye and Deb, but that style is really only good for one page or formal notes (thank you, condolence, congratulations). After that, it reverts.
Marie, you must have gone to Catholic school because my husband loves to regale us with similar inkwell and straight pen stories. He still prefers ink and dip pen for letters if he's writing by hand.
Loyd, I do prefer to write poetry by hand. For everything else, it's a keyboard. But pen on paper seems right for poetry and preaching.

My mom has beautiful penmanship, she won an award when she was in school (in the '40's). She thinks it has deteriorated but I still think it is lovely.

I don't write as many cheques as I used to mostly to save trees . . . I have good handwriting as long as the whole wrist/carpal tunnel thing isn't acting up. I do write letters and love to mail cards, letters, postcards etc since I know how much I like getting mail, I figure other people do as well.

I think it is sad that cursive is going out of style. The best cursive I have seen in recent years is my doctor's, she has beautiful handwriting! The worst would be one of my nephews, illegible is being kind.

My neurologist in Boston learned to write in Iran, and his handwriting looks like caligraphy. Gorgeous!

Margaret, I love this blog. Of course I love anything that allows me to rant... or reminds me of my Manuel! :)

I remember in third grade we had to fill a whole page with one cursive letter correctly before we could go to the next! I spent the whole year not progressing much past the first half of the alphabet. Today my handwriting is a combination of fancy cursive and some print for which I am always complimented. I love to write letters and notes. I also have quite a collection of letters and signatures of those I love that have gone on before me.

Reine,I love your blackboard story.

Childhood memories abound when I think about all the writing assignments involving copying pages from History books, literature and other subjects.
Now writing is a way to express ourselves without pressure unless there is a deadline, of course.
Margaret, this has been a wonderful sharing day. Thank you.

When I started writing, I wrote everything mirror image. We all thought it was funny and kind of intriguing because you could hold it up to a mirror to read. ( I could read at a young age, so even I knew this was strange). I learned to turn it around in first grade, I'm not sure how, it just sort of happened.

I always envied my Catholic school friends who had great penmanship. Mine is of the doctor variety, though my signature on books is pretty good.

My handwriting is atrocious - which I like to blame on extensive notetaking in college.:) When I finished my BS in '67 and MA in '73 most exams and some papers were still handwritten although most papers had to be typed.

I was a math teacher for 30 years and the last few years I rarely wrote anything in cursive except notes to parents.

About the only thing - other than checks - I do exclusively by hand now are my thank you notes to those who contribute to my ALS Walk team each year. Most people use an e-mail thank you but I feel if someone takes the time to make a contribution to a cause near and dear to my heart I can hand-write a thank you note. I take my time so it is legible.

My mom had pretty handwriting as did my sister. Mine never was great.

Brunonia, I too do mirror writing! I remember thinking it was odd that letters are supposed to go only one way, when my first grade teacher (a nun) pointed that out. I can still do mirror writing, but I can't read it without holding it up to a mirror. Isn't that strange? I can write it, but not read it. And when you hold it up to a mirror, it looks like a child's, one who's just learned cursive writing.

I think I'm channeling some dead elementary school child from the 1950's.

I still remember my second grade teacher tilting my paper to the left "as I told you to" and as was correct for the right-handed students -- thereby dooming me to years of hooking my hand and dragging my hand through my smeared words. I didn't think to protest, didn't even know there was any other way to write until I watched a friend in college -- and by then I couldn't really change my habits that completely. Sigh! Now with stiffness and aches and pains, I only write short notes; anything longer needs the computer . . .
Mirror writing -- that's impressive!!
BTW, did you all see Hank's outstanding (possibly life-saving) news report? (sorry for long link)

I did used to try to work on penmanship with my junior high students, even posted those handwriting samples over the board. When I moved to the high school, I asked to legibility and encouraged computer use . . .

Reine, shame on those bullies and the teacher who enabled them. Any tasks in the classroom should have been rotated and, if possible, voluntary . . . recognizing that some things NEED to be done. . .

Found the shorter link Karen sent me earlier . .

I actually had that same handwriting chart and blackboards with chalk when I was in school too, and I was in elementary school during the early to mid-nineties! It was a private school with very little funding, and a lot of old-fashioned pedagogy, so I guess that makes sense.
However, my penmanship is nowhere near what it was then, even though I never had a great handwriting style. But college has made it worse, having to take so many notes so quickly.
If I had more time, I think I'd write with pen and paper a lot more.

Harley, I just tried mirror writing again, and I can still do it very easily. I think I'll write the next draft of my new novel that way and send it to my editor with a mirror!

Hi Mary,

We were being democratic. Besides, I liked having a good excuse to rebel! ;)

Mary, thanks for the link to Hank's story.
Sharon, I feel very lucky that my mother saved letters. Love seeing things my grandparents wrote - or even my own letters from back when my dots were little circles.
And, Diana, she would give you gold stars for handwriting special notes. If there are young children in your extended family, send them a postcard. Kids really love getting mail.
Rebellion is part of democracy, too, Reine!
Thanks for all the great stories. You people make this blog!

I forgot something really cool about a writer. So late, sorry. I went to Mansfield, MO one year to see Laura Ingalls Wilder's home and museum. I know. I know. I'm not all I appear to be. So anyways... They had her manuscripts on display, all handwritten with pencil on old school tablet paper. Big Chief (not a PC era back then), I think, if anyone remembers those. Heh. I'm old.

Great post! A friend and I believe handwriting is alost art, so we are writing a handwritten "letter" to each other once a month!

I agree that handwriting can say a great deal about a person. I think that men whose handwriting in incomprehensible care only about themselves and do not value others' opinions.

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