Wednesday, October 20, 2010


We went to my son's Parent - Teacher conferences tonight, and no less than two of his instructors commented on his nice handwriting, his cursive to be exact.

I was a bit shocked that they mentioned it. It hadn't occurred to me that many kids his age (13) spend so much time on the computer, or texting on the phone, that they don't take time to practice their writing. Since I am of the age when computers didn't exist until I was in high school (and then were a bit of a novelty for the science-nerd-techie crowd), I learned to type in 10th grade and had my first computer at 20 something. So, that means all communication before then was - gasp!- hand written.

Oh the horror!

I actually like to write longhand. My cursive is of the flourishing, curly sort, which is a bit difficult to read, but it looks pretty good. And sometimes I still write with a pen.

Poetry especially is more suited for paper and ink, at least at first, because it doesn't come quickly. It must be painfully extracted if you want to know the truth.

Prose, on the other hand, comes out so fast that it is cumbersome to try to get it all down on paper, and the revision process looks like hell.

Jake (my son) has great handwriting, and he writes quite often. I've read a few studies lately that there is a neuronal connection between handwriting and creativity. It makes sense in a very common sense way. As an evolutionary tool, communicating by written language required development of symbols to get an idea across. That humans are hard wired from brain to hand seems reasonable.

In my office I have lots of examples of my fascination with words (the subject of previous posts), and as I look around the room, I notice that quite a few of them are handwriting examples: my grandmother's notes above her Vaccai vocal exercises, artist's signatures on paintings, my own script. I think many of us think that handwriting is a tedious chore, but I've always seen it as expression.

I won't be giving up my computer in this lifetime, but there are days, rainy days, when I sit on the bed, pen in hand, paper on lap, coffee nearby, and write.


Jo Taylor


  1. Hi Jo,
    Great post. I am reminded of my semester abroad studying English Poetry and Drama. I wrote many papers by hand, rewrote, editted, etc. all by hand. We were living out of suitcases all over England and lugging a computer and printer was impossible! I love the rainy days, pen in hand, paper on lap, coffee nearby!

  2. Hi Lauren -

    I'd love to hear more about your time in England. It was great to see you yesterday, sorry we didn't have time to talk. Soon.

    Thanks for visiting me here.