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The Value of Handwriting

I have been writing by hand since I was about seven years old. My penmanship has always been poor; I never received more than a C on the perfection of my script; and since I got tendinitis in my wrists in 2006, my handwriting, and particularly my signature, has become cryptic, cramped, nearly unreadable. I used to be able to write for 14 or more hours at a stretch. Now I manage two at the most due to aches that not only create suffering but make my writing so messy and collapsed I can barely decipher it myself. Yet I still write all my poems by hand, my essays, stories and songs. The only texts I type directly on the computer are blogs, freelance articles, letters and emails.

I continue to feel that what I write deepens by virtue of being composed by a pen on paper. That the whole process is more tangible, somatic, engaged, muscular, direct and sensory. I am less distracted and my personal imprint is evident. Also, there are traces left of changes, erasures; I can witness the workings of my brain. And I can feel the weight of the boxes full of years of drafts and know I slogged relentlessly towards where I am.

A graphologist once read the anxieties, neuroses, ambitions and joys of my personality through my script. When I sign a book, my crazy racingly-dashed off sprawl-limbed signature is always exclaimed over, usually with the cry of, “What’s that??!!” And I always reply, with a smile, “The state of my mind.”