Not the typed word, although I have a special love for that too, the actual physically written word.
As a committed diarist, I find writing to be one of the most satisfying types of expression.
Putting quill to parchment – there is not a thing like it on this planet. Just the beautiful expression of swirling your pen, pencil, paint brush, quill, chalk, crayon and any other medium you fancy across a page in a unique way that is as individual to you as your finger prints, is unbeatable.
I’m typing in a font that millions of people use every day. It is functional, uniform… but not distinct. It is not instantly recognisable as you.
How many times have you looked at the front of an envelope and seen the handwriting of the address on the front and guessed straight away who it was from?
It is part of that unequivocal joy of being a human being, one of the things that makes us, us. We can write, we can make words with our hands – how fantastic is that?
It doesn’t matter if you can write either, because not everyone can. It is not just about the act of writing, but the recognition of the artistic formation of words that is just as important.
Handwriting can be just as familiar as the person who wrote it. It is as recognisable as their features and can therefore bring instant feelings related to that person. If you love someone, then seeing their words written down is a wonderful moment.
The best example of this I can think of recently, was when I came down one morning whilst still on maternity leave, shattered and feeling like all kinds of hell. I sloped into the kitchen, exhausted, to make my baby her first bottle of the morning, to see a love letter taped to the kitchen cupboard for me to find.
I didn’t need to see the sign off at the end to know who wrote it. The handwriting itself was as unique and as wonderful as the person who wrote it: my wonderful Thomas.
Seeing his writing alone made me smile. It could have been a shopping list and it would still elicit a positive response from me.
Knowing that a pen moved across the surface of that piece of paper, moved by him, was beautiful. There were not just faceless keys depressed on a keyboard by someone sat behind a screen, it was that personal extension of someone else that I appreciated the most.
Handwriting can be so easily overlooked at times because we are all keyboard enthusiasts in the modern era. We can easily forget that it was writing by pen that we all survived on before the advent of the technological revolution that we are living right now.
I used to have many pen pals from all over the world as a kid and I truly miss that. There is nothing like getting a letter from someone. Knowing that you are holding in your hand something that has physically travelled from somewhere was wonderful and exciting, especially when you are untraveled and young.
Handwriting is also the only means at times, I have as a writer, to immediately record all the things that have just popped into my head. In that moment of spontaneous creativity, I can’t just wait to boot up the laptop of the desk top – I have to get the idea down NOW. Even the way I have written it down is indicative of how enthusiastic I was about the idea and how important it is to me.
I write on napkins, bits of scrap paper, the back of envelopes and receipts… if it is inside me and it needs to come out, writing it down is the best and most satisfying course to follow. It is unmatchable.
So, I will continue to document my life through my diaries and in pen. I am no Samuel Pepys, but I think I’m doing my bit to continue the handwriting movement, before we forget what it was like to just write.