The Word for Writers
The Forgotten Art of Fine Handwriting
by Michael McBuba
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Nowadays, handwritten works have become quite a rare sight indeed, what with the ubiquitous availability of personal computers that now come in the form of desktops, laptops, palmtops, personal document assistants (PDAs), GSM/CDMA handsets, MP3/4, flash drives, et cetera. Not forgetting to mention iPods, thumb drives, personal organizers and the many other abundantly available electronic/electrical media.
Quite sadly indeed, very few people nowadays actually take out the time to personally handwrite their letters by longhand, preferring instead, to have such messages dictated, typed and posted via e-mails, texts, wired transfer or facsimile.
We owe it as a responsible obligation to the younger generation to ensure that the novel and noble art of longhand writing is not allowed to die out of hand or to fade away altogether. It is also our duty as the older adults to teach the younger ones the value of handwritten works, including the well-cultivated and properly-harnessed art of taking down notes in classes, schools, churches, and every other such place. They need to be taught on how to appreciate their own unique and individual style of longhand writing, and where necessary, we may also need to teach them of how to improve on it, as well as how to cultivate and polish it into a very fine and professional art.
Quite often, I come across some handwritten letters or other such documents mailed to me from some of my friends in overseas countries; and it never ceases to amaze me how it seems that their longhand writings are almost always near-perfect calligraphic reproductions. I get the distinct impression that most all of them were taught to write this way back in their junior primary and/or early secondary school days. I am strongly inclined to agree with this impression because I can still clearly remember that way back in my early primary school days, we used to have class sessions devoted exclusively to the learning and development of fine longhand writing; and it was always instructively useful back then to learn how to fashion, craft or construct letters, alphabets, numerals and words that way.
I do not know if handwriting classes are still conducted in our kindergarten and primary schools today. I fervently hope that they still do. Or else, how can one hope to preserve his handwriting if he doesn’t make out the time and effort to write in longhand?
Nowadays, most of us who work with (or have ready access to personal computers) tend to do more of typing on the system than writing out on plain paper. No wonder that some top shots and medical physicians have impossible to read handwritings that only their secretaries and/or personal assistants alone can manage to barely decipher – and I am writing purely out of my own personal experience and encounter with some of these top echelon chiefs! The simple reason for this atrophy of legible longhand writing is summarized in the following little maxim – What you don’t put to regular use, you will eventually lose! It is quite that simple and straightforward.
Again, one of the rare beauties of handwritten works is the intimate and personal touch of reality which is effortlessly conveyed by it, other than the abstract, monotonous and detached feeling which accompanies always working predominantly and exclusively from the cosy comfort of PCs.
For instance, writing my personal letters by longhand is still the most intimate and emotional way by which conjugal matters are conveyed to my wife. And it is still the most discreet means by which some top government officials and private business professionals communicate effectively and efficiently. It is still also the most preferred method by which some married couples communicate at their very intimate best. It is equally true that longhand writing is still the most standard, effective, efficient and acceptable method, by which most personal relationships are strengthened, enhanced and kept going for ages.
We therefore, owe it as our responsible obligation to the younger and upcoming ones to ensure that the baton of the well-developed art of fine longhand writing is passed on to the many generations yet unborn. This way, we will be ensuring that the presently forgotten and not-too-often-used fine art of longhand writing is perpetually preserved for future posterity.
On a final and personal note, I wish to submit that the initial drafts and final copy of this present write-up were written by me on Wednesday, February 13, 2008, in longhand on a recycled and ruled A4 pale-yellowish writing paper, which was manufactured by Balmain of Paris. This computer-typed version of the work was made on Friday, April 04, 2008.
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First of all the subject was very much welcomed. I miss the way things used to be in that same way. I do find that my handwriting has declined and I appreciate your prompt to get busy writing. I totally agree and must say that those of us who most remember the art truly should preserve it for future generations. Your message was well written and presented and I assure you well taken.
I couldn't agree more! I still prefer writing first drafts, especially long-hand.