A while ago (it seems like an age ago now!) I wrote a short piece about writing. In it I was commenting on how difficult I actually found writing articles. After a long absence I am going to be finding it a lot more difficult now! That’s another story for another day. What I was saying is that I was impressed with the number of people who write articles, some prolific writers while others struggle to write in English but still have a go. It’s fascinating and inspiring, all at the same time.
That said, the computer and word processors have become the norm in this day and age. You can go down your local high street and see the teens with their mobiles, writing messages at incredible speeds and in a language that, although not literally English, will soon become part of our language whether we like it or not. There are very few people who don’t use computers nowadays (apart from my dad who thinks that using the Tivo box to access Youtube is ‘surfing the net’!) and nearly all workplaces will use some form of word processing in order to write whatever is required.
The Royal Mail deliver tens of thousands of letters each day. Some of them may be greeting or birthday cards sent to relatives or friends. But how many of them are hand written letters? When was the last time you wrote a letter to a friend or to anyone, for that matter? When was the last time you wrote something more substantial than a shopping list?
When I was younger and computers were few and far between, I was taught calligraphy and how to write in traditional copperplate. The calligraphy I used to do for fun, writing poems in a gothic style and impressing the pants off my parents and my friends. My normal handwriting was used when I was forced to write letters to my relatives every Sunday. I hated Sundays and still, to this day, cannot stand them! In a nutshell, I had very nice handwriting.
Well, I don’t anymore.
For over twenty five years I have been using computers to write my letters. I have the ability to churn out an impressive number of words per second, not surprising considering how often I used to write reports. I have relied upon the computer to correct my increasingly bad spelling and grammar. In conclusion, I had lost my skill in handwriting as well as my ability to spell correctly!
It’s a shame, when you think about it. Gone are the days when people would sit down and carefully write a letter using pen and paper. Social networking sites, emails and texts have taken over and we all keep contact with our friends using at least one of them. I have left the telephone out on purpose as that doesn’t involve writing.
So, although we do ‘write’ using one of the above applications on our computers or phones, the art of writing is becoming a thing of the past. How many of you have written something and think they still have good handwriting? The handwriting I have seen has been terrible, more like a spider dipped in ink and allowed to walk around on the paper. Some has even been totally illegible. It’s a shame.
A few weeks ago I decided that I would start hand writing letters again. I must admit that there is an ulterior motive for me; it’s an exercise that helps in ensuring that my brain doesn’t turn into mush! To begin with, my writing was terrible. Even I was appalled. Fortunately, the internet has lessons on everything, so I downloaded some writing lessons and in no time at all, my handwriting improved significantly. I can’t stop my hands from shaking, but that is only one small, inconsequential thing.
I have taken a great deal of joy in writing. I still have to think about how I form the individual letters but I also have to think more carefully about what I am going to write. There is no ‘delete’ button when you use pen and paper! The thing I enjoy the most is the feeling of the pen moving over the paper as I slowly write my letter. They take time, concentration and more than a little effort, but the end product is more than worth it. I just wish I could be there when my friends open the envelope and see a hand written letter!! Shocked, to say the least!
The art of hand writing may be something that will be assigned to history. It will become something that only a few will be able to do and our future generations will look upon it as we look upon hieroglyphics. It is a shame and will be a loss. All of the most important documents ever written were written by hand and each has a particular uniqueness about them. A computer printout is soulless and commonplace, they will never have that same unique feeling and, judging how the younger generation is simplifying English to suit their rapid text messenging, may never be in the English language used today!