Not everyone likes to write. I have a friend with large hands who says he feels clumsy with a pen or pencil and avoids writing whenever he can – which is most of the time. A pen collector of my acquaintance, with hundreds of vintage fountain pens, never uses any of them. When he has occasion to write he uses a ballpoint.
I love to write. I love the process of applying pen to paper and forming letters. That’s not to say I’m a calligrapher or even that I write especially well. I’m a very ordinary writer at best and when I am drafting it’s a dreadful scrawl which even puzzles me sometimes.
Writing is a very personal thing. I began, like most of my age, by forming capital and lower case letters. Then came cursive, or joined-up writing as we called it then, carefully copying the letters and connections the teacher made on the board. At that point all twenty-odd of us should have been writing the same but of course even then skill and ability varied. I remember one girl whose writing was outstanding. The rest of us varied between pretty good and awful. I fell somewhere in the middle.
We were all – or at least most of us – then equipped to communicate on paper, even though perhaps slowly and with difficulty. Practice makes perfect but it also leads to change. First to go were the light upstrokes and heavy downstrokes. Quite soon all the pressures were the same. None of our teachers seemed to mind. So long as they got a legible, reasonably tidy piece of work there were no complaints.
Change was imperceptible at first. With greater speed and confidence in writing the letters were less carefully formed but that was all then. It was later, when I was ten or eleven, that I decided to make my writing more personal and individual. Certain ascenders disappeared. The form of some letters began to change too, so that my handwriting became a mixture between cursive and italic which I thought really cool and smart at the time. Later, when I felt the necessity to improve my writing those were the first things I had to correct. It was a painful process after years of writing that way. I had to retrain muscle memory.
Now my writing is mostly legible when I’m not drafting. I write best with a stub or relief but I’m quite happy with fines and mediums. Broad nibs are not for me. Handwriting, though, is always a work in progress. I have no interest in calligraphy but I feel that my own, natural handwriting will always be capable of improvement