you are so type a

(clockwise from the top: TYPE A cards for Woogs World, …love Maegan, Pancakes & French Fries and Hollywood Housewife)

When Eden asked others to share their thoughts on handwriting, I immediately thought of a post I wrote last September.

I write about writing a lot, you may have noticed. And handwriting is a subject close to my heart: I am both a writer (screenwriter, journalist, editor) as well as a calligrapher.

With a computer keyboard, pen and pad, inkwell and calligraphy nib – I write, therefore I am.

My old-fashioned hand lettering often fuses with the 21st century, be it in web headers or badges, or on these business cards that happen to belong to some fabulous bloggers. Love that interconnectivity.  Love that my handwritten work often comes about via twitter and Facebook and other ways in which creative connections would never have been made without this speedy social media world we call home. Old meets new.

For me, calligraphy is the perfect balance – it requires focus and mindfulness that is often tossed to the wayside while we’re busily rushing about at the speed of our modems. Ink needs time to dry.

As it says on my TYPE A site, I love social media, but I want us to live social lives as well. And I mean it.

So, go grab some paper and write a real, honest to goodness letter. Redevelop that callus on your middle finger from years spent WRITING. Let’s bring back pen pals.  xo a.


And now, five great things someone else said, vol. 24 Redux:

They don’t teach cursive anymore. The time I first heard that, my heart sank. I didn’t believe my young cousin – maybe she was wrong? Perhaps the LAUSD and the Santa Monica/Malibu school districts were different? No such luck.

Globalization was putting an end to cursive, which was fine and well. Except it wasn’t. I am a writer. Both as an art and a craft. Storyteller and calligrapher. How were people going to translate documents fifty, one hundred years from now when no one could write in modern ancient script?

It just felt like a massive leap from one age to the next, only I was standing here, straddling the lines between then and now. Between ink on page and stylus on screen. I like a mix of the two worlds but can’t fathom merely the latter. I wondered how many kids would never keep diaries, for I never found printing could keep up with my thoughts the way cursive could. Can. Who journals in print? Who takes class notes in print? (Who takes notes in notebooks anymore, Alex?) I love technology but there is something awesome in seeing the handwritten notes, letters, journals of your gr-gr-gr-grandfather. Or the speech of a great thinker. The notes of a poet.

Helvetica and Times New Roman just don’t cut it.

I once found some papers from the 1920s, signed by my great-grandfather. An uncle of mine marveled at how closely they signed their names. A particular curl here, a flourish there. They never knew each other in life, but here they connected. In ink on vellum.

Garamond is a lovely font but it just won’t suffice.

There is magic in handwriting. There is beauty in the written word. Be it a diary kept on the front during WWI or a recipe box filled with handwritten recipes, the more beloved dishes easily identified by the papers stained by boiling sauces and dustings of flour, the tattered edges of the 3.5×5 card stock.

I know the world is flat now, I see that Arial is far more useful than the Art of Handwriting, but who can forget the day they mastered the tricky uppercase Q or the lowercase Z? Small victories made by little hands using chunky navy blue pencils. It was a rite of passage, the day upon which we were allowed to begin doing our assignments in handwriting. It was exciting and fancy and made me practically a teenager. I would practice and practice. In pencil, ballpoint and chalk. In fountain ink and paintbrushes. My perfect cursive signature.

My mark. Left on the world. xo a.

Five great things someone else said about handwriting:

The only thing most people do better than anyone else is read their own handwriting. – John Adams

She always used the same method, faking the rigid t’s and b’s of her mother’s signature and then, to distinguish her own handwriting, penning her signature, Lux Lisbon, below, the two beseeching L’s reaching out for each other over the ditch of the u and barbed-wire x. – Jeffrey Eugenides, The Virgin Suicides

Her handwriting was curious — small sharp little letters with no capitals (who did she think she was, e. e. cummings?). –  Erich Segal, Love Story

Over and over I feel as if my characters know who they are, and what happens to them, and where they have been and where they will go, and what they are capable of doing, but they need me to write it down for them because their handwriting is so bad.- Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

When I’d checked into the bathroom with Seymour’s diary under my arm, and had carefully secured the door behind me, I spotted a message almost immediately. It was not, however, in Seymour’s handwriting but, unmistakably, in my sister Boo Boo’s. With or without soap, her handwriting was always almost indecipherably minute, and she had easily managed to post the following message up on the mirror; ‘Raise high the roof beam, carpenters. – J.D. Salinger, Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters and Seymour: An Introduction


9 thoughts on “you are so type a

  1. Jules

    Have no fear, Alex, the art of cursive is alive–at least in private school. Mikey started cursive (Palmer Method Penmanship, I believe) this trimester and he loves it. It’s the mark of being a big kid.

    1. alexandrawrote Post author

      Unfortunately, I think it’s a trend that will soon move across the board because the reasoning behind it is the issue of globalization. The evolution of cursive is a fascinating thing. I have documents from Prussia ca. 1860 that are near impossible to decipher – even if only to figure out the German in order to translate via a Eng to German dictionary. Or take a look at census and other documents from the turn of the last century.

      Still, I’m so glad Mikey is learning it – he might find himself with unexpected career opportunities as a translator in adulthood.

  2. edenland

    Oh my goodness you are such an advocate for handwriting. Your post made me achey for things lost! Max goes to a public school down here and he is being taught cursive. Your post made me think that we should all be giving our children blank diaries for them to fill with their heart breathings.

    1. alexandrawrote Post author

      I am extremely sentimental about it, but more importantly, I see a huge cognitive issue that concerns me. The mind-brain connection in physically writing things down enhances memory. I think it began with speed dial on our phones a few decades ago – remember when we used to remember numbers off the top of our head? I also have found that when I make to-do lists on my phone, rather than writing them down, again, recheck, recheck, recheck. I prefer writing. I love the satisfaction of crossing something off. 🙂

  3. Cindi

    I love your writing ~ the blogging stuff and the caligraphy ~ and agree with your comment on the cognitive issues. When I taught university “adult” students, it was difficult for some “my age” to connect with the coursework. So I always had handwritten assignments for each class, a DVD related to the topic for audio/visual connection, and then discussions (debates, really) to push them to think outside of the box. Handwriting my notes when I was in school was the best way to remember things. I could close my eyes and visualize the answer being written by my hand.

    1. alexandrawrote Post author

      I love how you relate this experience. Handwritten assignments are a luxury. Something I knew once upon a time when teachers mimeographed spelling lists and other things past. There are so many gorgeous, fabulous fonts out there. I have purchased many of them 🙂 But none have the connection of pen to paper. Never will. What lucky students you had!

      1. Cindi

        When I started teaching, I had two cards custom printed. One that said in large letters ‘HANG IN THERE’ and behind it was a repeating line that said “You’ll be so glad you did! What a remarkable achievement!” These I would give out with mid-term grades with a handwritten note personalized to each student about things I had learned from them in the previous weeks and encouraging them to continue their educational goals.

        It can be so easy for the adult student to quit on their goals because of work, family, or other distractions. Many of my students were single parents, or military getting ready to retire and start a new career, some mid-career wanting a promotion. I remembered being so discouraged at times when I was working on my BS or my MBA and trying to juggle a full time day job and being a wife.

        The second card I would give also at mid-term, but blank and as many as the student wanted. These said “THANK YOU” with a running line that said “…for supporting me in my educational goals. I appreciate you so much.” I told the students to fill them out and send or give them to anyone and everyone who had helped or encouraged them in their studies. Parents, spouses, kids, co-workers, bosses. I knew that there were sacrifices being made by all in support of their goals, especially the single parents.

        It was always so gratifying for me to hear from students later who said my encouragement had helped them to pursue other career or educational goals, or that the Thank You cards had been appreciated by the receiver.

  4. Peggi

    My niece in NJ goes to a private school that eliminated cursive instruction a couple of years ago. By popular demand, it’ll be back in September.

    Just found your blog; I’ll be back!

    1. alexandrawrote Post author

      This makes me happy on so many levels. I think that in the private system there’s more hope for such possibilities than in a large school district where the curriculum is set down to be the same across so many school. But never say never – all it could take is a teacher with a passion for cursive to make it possible.


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