Thoughts about handwriting
December 9th, 2022
Recently, I have heard that Chinese children have to learn calligraphy at school. It’s mandatory for everyone, because by learning these beautiful, centuries-old gestures, they learn their culture. And they certainly train their brain in the process.
It contrasts strikingly with the Western cultures where young people can type on phones and computers with incredible speed, but are hand-writing less and less.
The same applies to reading something hand-written – the less we do it, the harder it becomes for us. By losing this important skill, we are losing the access to something magical, meaningful and beautiful.
Even before I started working with family archives, I always found handwriting fascinating. There is something magical about someone’s hand moving on paper, about how they hold their pen, how they write each letter and sign… I can almost feel their thoughts flowing down their arm and their fingers into the pen and through its tip – on paper. It’s a beautiful process that I can’t get enough watching.
And of course I adore hand-written notes and letters. There is nothing like it. No printed card or typed message can ever compete with that. It’s much more intimate and revealing, much more personal and touching. It holds a tiny part of the person who wrote it, a part that extends beyond the written words, a part of their personality and mood. A hand-written note conveys much more than just typed words, and that’s why it’s so incredibly precious.
I love writing. I mean, writing with a pen on paper. For me this is an important ingredient of the creative process, one that I can hardly skip. I know that especially for book writing, it can be seen as a waste of time – after having written it manually, I have to spend practically the same amount of time typing it all in the computer for all the following steps of the publishing process. It’s not efficient. For that reason, I have been trying hard to learn to type everything directly, to skip the pen-and-notebook step.
At the beginning, it was extremely hard, but now I can say I am slowly getting there (stubbornness and persevering can really give incredible results, lol). Nonetheless, from time to time, the hand-writing magic gets the best of me. It’s a real physical urge: to take a pen and write something, no matter what, just write, just experience again this marvelous sensation of the pen gliding on paper with a soft whisper, giving birth to letters and words, of the thoughts and emotions naturally flowing into the fingers and through the pen that becomes an extension of them. That’s magic. Magic that I constantly need in my life.