Oof. I had a look at my handwriting the other day, when I scribbled a note to accompany a package I was sending off. My chicken scratch looked horrible, nearly illegible, even. After years and years of keyboard use, my penmanship has clearly deteriorated.
It’s not that I write by hand so rarely that it was a shock for me to see how poorly formed my letters are. But I was writing at a moderately greater length than usual, and it made an impression on me how malformed many of the letters turned out. I had to go back in and add missing strokes and stems to many of the otherwise inscrutable letters just to make sure I didn’t come across as some kind of maniac.
Above: Letter by letter. A sample of my deteriorating penmanship. Points if you know where this passage of text came from.
I was also struck by how uncomfortable the act of writing seemed to be. It was only a few lines that I was scribbling, but fatigue quickly set in from pushing the pen across the page, and my writing quickly got even worse the more I wrote.
Maybe the worst part of it is that I’m more or less just resigned to this terrible state of personal craftsmanship. When I think about how people used to routinely write pages and pages of correspondence by hand (yes, it’s true that many still do) and how penmanship was a point of pride, I realize how far from that I stand today. And it causes me virtually no regret. In the grand scheme of things, exemplary handwriting would seem to be one of the least crucial tools I could call upon in meeting the challenges I face. It’s sad and I wouldn’t argue that it’s short-sighted, but it doesn’t really seem to matter much to me.