By the time that I was in my mid twenties I had forgotten how to write.
This was not the result of a head injury or some other misfortune. It was due to my not actually having to write. Most of what I had to do could be done on a computer. I can touch type quickly and a printed letter looks more formal than a written one. Before the advent of chip and pin I did have to sign my name, but that is more a hieroglyph than writing.
My handwriting was never good. Until the age of eight we used pencils and printed at school. Then we were taught joined up writing. This was Barchowsky Fluent Handwriting developed as an easy transition between print and cursive.
My writing was small not suited to any form of cursive and at first I didn’t get along with it. I didn’t really see the point in learning to write in a script that was harder to read. I was able to learn enough of this to satisfy the teachers at my primary school.
By the time I went to secondary for the most part I stopped writing in cursive. Not all of the primary schools that fed this school taught any form of cursive so the teachers didn’t bother with how you wrote. I did however find that cursive was easier to write with a fountain pen.
I was not allowed a fountain pen at school. They were considered to be a more likely weapon than a ball point. At school I printed with a bic biro. However I would write my homework with a fountain pen.
At the age of 13 while skateboarding I broke my right wrist. Badly. From then on my handwriting was poor. A barely legible scrawl. It remained as such all the way through university and beyond. Until I reached the point that I barely write.
Then there was a period of time where I had to write things for other people to read. I was embarrassed by my inability to do so well. I decided that I needed to do something about it. At around this time the move ‘The Hours’ came out. In it Nicole Kidman plays the writer Virginia Woolf. She is shown writing in Woolf’s hand.
In one of the featurettes on the DVD Kidman explains how she trained herself by copying examples of Woolf’s handwritten words.
I found some examples of writing that I liked and did the same.
A few years later I started to learn German. During the class I would take notes, both in English and German, and on occasion I would lend notes to classmates who had missed a lesson. Each time I was complemented on my handwriting.
Now each evening I write up to two pages for a diary entry, with a fountain pen, and although not anything flash. I have a neat functional semi cursive hand that can be read by anyone. More than that I have also rediscovered the joy of putting pen to paper.