reinventing the hand, 17th February 2017

I hardly know my own handwriting never mind anyone elses….. I used to easily recognise any of my friends writing, on envelopes or wherever, but now not so much or at all, and they would’ve known mine being I was an avid freehand letter-writer frequently writing reams…

of course this took time, as it should, otherwise what’d be the point, though not it seems so popular to ‘waste‘ so much time in our now so-called time-constrained worlds…. it’s all about “saving time” and doing things quicker, but quicker doesn’t mean better and what are you “saving” all this time for?…….. stand up for slo-hand!……although once you’ve messed about fiddling and shunting your text around a screen in an effort to create your ‘masterpiece’ you probably haven’t saved any time at all……

and writing letters is the best exercise in free-writing, letting your mind spill onto pulp and what emerges from the ink is what is……. it’s scary, no cut/ paste/ copy/ delete (excluding the miracle of tippex, or correction fluid which is a skill unto itself!) or even a spellchecker other than your own brain and a dictionary….. the saying that in a city “you’re never more than 6 feet away from a  rat”, well I am, or rarely, more than 6 feet from a dictionary…… freehand means essentially no safety net, the scribbles, overwrites, annotations, misspelling, meanderings, warts and all exposed (unless you’re a drafter, drafting several before contriving a finished product which I’m not when freehanding, such a waste of paper it’d be)…….

with freehand it could only have been written by you making the finished article all the more tangible, real, living and breathing, the closest to actual speaking without a sound……. letters from over a hundred years ago still have that sense of placing you there with the correspondent at the moment pen touched paper…… there are exceptions, those for whom writing by hand is impossible or difficult as it can be for me over prolonged periods with my Raynauds-afflicted fingers……. writing is written, typing is typed, you’re either a writer or a typer with both producing quite different ends…….. the brain works different when freehanding and as the word suggests is ‘free‘, stepping onto a high-wire, commitment, a tension captured in the words and phrases used, a flow and intensity lost to a keyboard, being exposed to the full force of the weathering eyes of the reader….

(ps… my handwriting is rubbish but hey-ho….)

© robert greig


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