Thursday, July 30, 2009

Pen Pals

Ronda published a pic of her handwriting earlier this week, a meme she picked up somewhere. Oh. I love this meme. I agree with her that seeing a person's handwriting says so much about the individual. By doing it here in the blog world, we can finally become real pen pals. Very cool! Thanks, Ronda.

The above pic is a page from my personal journal, written one week after Jake died. I chose this page because it includes one of my doodles. I think of my doodles as part of my handwriting. They are woven in with almost every page of my personal journal, and often accompany to-do lists, notes to my roommates and such.

It blows me away to think that, before the typewriter was invented - not that long ago! - all books were written by hand. Think about it. Could Stephen King or Barbara Cartland have cranked out as many books if they had had to write them by hand? The idea itself is daunting. I love thinking about, for instance, Tolstoy, with nothing more than a quill and inkwell, writing every word in War and Peace. That dude was mighty!

An interview of the great comic artist Lynda Barry a few years ago included this story: when she was writing her book, The Good Times are Killing Me, she got a terrible case of writer's block. Finally she went into her art studio, picked up her paintbrush and began again. After that, the story flowed out of her. She painted her book. Wow. (It's a great book, fantastic. Not very long, understandably).

Writing by hand is slow; even I - a great lover of cursive script - become impatient with the process sometimes. I'm a super fast typist, and, too, there's writer's cramp, a very real, very unpleasant side effect of writing by hand. But when I'm creating an outline from which to teach (for instance), I can't do that via a QWERTY keyboard. It's such a different way of thinking. My personal journal would not be personal if it wasn't written by hand. Speaking only for myself here, of course.

Handwriting is a quirky, unique and completely personal expression of the mystery of the individual. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that some of you will publish images of your own handwriting. If you feel like it, that is.


Elizabeth said...

Wheeee I'm the first!
Longhand is so terribly time consuming.
Yes, indeedy writing W&P all on one's own.
B. Cartland dictated, and I fear Lady/Ms/Countess Sonia or some other amenuensis aided the great one.

When I was in primary school there were 2 brothers
Peter and Paul Boddham-Wettham ( yes, really)
their mother was a graphologiest for Scotland Yard.
Her professional name was Joan CAMBRIDGE.
I digress.
Yes, I think one can tell lots and lots by handwriting

so why is the word verification:

another skill learned in junior high

Angela said...

I just got two handwritten letters from blog-pals (both with beautiful handwriting) and am writing back to them! I love it, both the writing and the receiving. I agree to what you said, my ideas take different turns this way.
I admire your doodles!

Steve said...

That's an interesting idea. Maybe I'll do it tomorrrow. My handwriting is a mess, though -- be warned! LOL

I love your doodles. It says something about you that you take the time to add a little art to everything you write -- even things as pedestrian as shopping lists and notes to your roommates.

ellen abbott said...

My handwriting, which is a combination of print and cursive, varies day to day. some days it is so smooth and looks really nice, other days it looks like a third grader's. I don't write by hand much but I really do enjoy getting actual letters. Hmmm, maybe I should start writing more myself.

When I was in school, all my papers, well, the notes I took in class, had doodles on them. I would do small one line drawings of other kids in class to entertain myself.

And on journals...I've tried several times to keep a journal. They all petered out after a few days. I guess my blog is the closest I've come to that.

Reya Mellicker said...

Of course those guys dictated. Duh!!

Ellen you must learn to be more self involved - then journaling will make perfect sense to you.

Just making fun of myself.

The doodling is a self soothing activity. Drawing all those parallel lines helps me, it does.

Hope I get to see some of your handwriting (not just Ellen, I mean anyone who feels like it.)

Mrsupole said...

I loved your handwriting and your doodles, my handwriting is good and my doodles suck. I just make squares or circles and fill them in, yippee, they look so cool, not!

Anyway I am not sure what it says aout a person who writes good or bad or doodles good or bad. Some people never doodle. I did see something that people who doodle are smarter on average. So doodle to your hearts content.

Great post. I enjoyed this.

God bless.

The Bug said...

I also move between cursive & printing - even within the same word. I always made Cs on handwriting - until they stopped grading us on it. And I was a straight A student back then!

When I got married, I changed from Wallace to Rhyne - & I NEVER got the hang of that Rhy business - my signature is a big R & some squiggly lines after it.

BTW - I changed my name because I never thought I'd get married & figured no one else thought I would either - I wanted the world to know that it had actually happened!

karen said...

Handwriting! What an amazing idea.. I think I shall have to do this one - if I can find anything written by hand, in my tecno life. Otherwise will have to write something on purpose, and it will be suspiciously neat! Your drawings on the side are lovely,and the photo below very poignant.. Love Jake's cubist look, too x

Ronda Laveen said...

Thanks for opening up such a private part of yourself to us. Wow! A peek at your personal journal and during one of the saddest times of your life. You are brave.

Your handwriting has a thoughtful look to it...just like you. Like your ideas are flowing from your brain, into the pen and out through the ink. And your doodles! Amazing. They remind me of Maori tatoos.

Thanks again, r.

rothko said...

I love this idea, publishing your handwriting. I want to do it. But alas, I have to wait...

willow said...

I'm fascinated with the individuality of handwriting.

There's a sample of mine here:

Reya Mellicker said...

As usual, Willow, you were way ahead of the game. What a great post ... I think I even left a comment, but then promptly forgot all about it.

Love your handwriting - it's so open and positive looking. Very cool.

Reya Mellicker said...

Ronda I chose the page carefully so I didn't reveal anything that I actually want to keep private. There are worlds of privacy that will never be revealed here or anywhere on the internet. My favorite photos, my deepest thoughts - I keep all that to myself because once it's out there on the internet, anyone and everyone has access. But ... thanks for thinking I'm brave.

Rothko maybe you can show me your handwriting when you're in DC next week?

Amy said...

I'm a huge fan of the actual written word. I love to send cards and letters that are handwritten. It just seems so much more personal to me.

In school, I had excellent penmanship and practiced writing everyday. (I doodled a lot too!) I had a giant callus on my finger that took 15 years to go away after I got out of school. These days, my penmanship is rusty and when I write, I don't like the way it looks at all. I guess that tells me I should be writing more, eh?

I love this idea, Reya. Handwriting really does reveal so much about a person.

steven said...

hi reya, the picture's got it's own sort of calligraphy with its order within the flow of the little lines and the curling in and opening out of the larger shapes. weaving yeah. this could be a still from a film.
when i want to think my way through something - planning or organizing - i love to create flow charts with a fine tipped pen and then open out the emerging tightness into something more fluid on screen. when it's pure thought - free associating or unpacking a moment - then i love to write in my journal. i'll find something worthy and see if i can pop it up on the golden fish tomorrow!!
have a lovely afternoon. steven

lacochran said...

I do think there is a huge difference in how we write at a keyboard and how we write with a pen scritching on paper. Different tactile experience and different editing ability = different expression. Handwriting displays emotion in the way the letters are formed or march across the page but typing... not so much.

Reya Mellicker said...

Steven, I, too love schematics. That's what I call my diagrams and "constellations" - dots connected by straight lines.

My goodness I must have a lot of time on my hands!

sciencegirl said...

You're so right about a handwritten journal being much more personal than writing on a machine! There's a feel to it, and a look, and a physical effort that's part of what we write.

Anonymous said...

Hi Reya! I will post my handwriting at some point, I think that's a fabulous idea! You know, I've noticed that my spelling is TERRIBLE when I write now...and I can't put words together anymore, like I'll spell lasagna, lagasna when I write it out, but by keyboard it's always's really annoying how reliant I've become on the keyboard!

lakeviewer said...

When I first began writing my memoir I worked in a journal notebook with a fountain pen. That pen helped the flow of my thoughts, the river of tears that bathed the paper as I recalled scenes I had not tought about for decades. I keep those notebooks under lock and key. They are testament to my search for truth.

And yes, that handwriting tells the story better than my neat typing can.

lakeviewer said...

p.s. When I purchased my computer, I looked for one that had handwriting capabilities, because I was not sure I could type my thoughts freely. My productivity was amazing during that time, still better than anytime since.

Mary said...

I love this - and your hand is much as I would have expected...there is such artistry to your photography and balance and that comes through in your writing and doodles

I did mine on Mary's Verandah.blogspot

Deborah said...


hard day one week from
putting Hobbes down

thanks for this a.m.
so great to hear from you

love and more love

Expat From Hell said...

Oh, this is scary stuff. You are once again leading us forward, dear Reya. Thanks for doing this. I am going to try with my next post. Why does this feel like a visit to the proctologist?


robert said...

Good morning,
what an impressive entry of yours. Wrote my dissertation with a couple of pencils before typing them into the pc, duing currently a MSc still write mostly with a pencil and afterwards into the pc.
Eventhough there's little of my handwriting still there, will use the idea as soon as possible - thank you for providing it.

Reya Mellicker said...

Proctologist? Gosh I hope not!! How about a cardiologist? More poetic, yes, EFH??

Tom said...

Like you say, your handwriting tells a lot about you--but what if you have to alter your handwriting so that other people can actually read it? Mine is deplorable! much so i usually write with a combo of print/script. Still, i think i will try this...your doodle is fantastic btw.

Reya Mellicker said...

Thanks, Tom. Coming from you, that really means a lot!

Barbara Martin said...

I handwrite my journal which only contains dreams during the night before, and I handwrite my first draft manuscripts. The edits are done on the computer, but those first written words hold the power of the story as it unfolds. Good topic today, Reya.

Lori ann said...

hi reya,

i like your doodles and ideas handwritten out. i know i couldn't live without a pencil and paper. i love everything about handwriting. i have a fountain pen that was given as a gift over 30 years ago, it started a collection that i keep still. i like blogging but i love journaling so much more. i showed a part of one of my journals a couple weeks ago, it seemed like the only way to get across the meaning of my can find it here if you like!

Brenda said...

I recently had to put our 15 year old dog to sleep, and I am still grieving. I used to love to practice handwriting and now it is a struggle to even sign my full name. I think it is because the need to write anything is so seldom, with computers, etc. I am a first time visitor to your blog and will come back to visit later.

Bee said...

It is wonderful to see your handwriting. Such a personal thing.

I've been working at the Jane Austen house today and it is AWE-INSPIRING to me to see her letters and manuscripts. All written with a quill!

I used to have nice handwriting, but it has deteriorated badly because I'm in too much of a hurry! I've gotten used to typing, and I want to go at that same speed!!