Tag Archives: life’s work

alexandra wrot calligraphy type a

How did you become a calligrapher? I’ve been asked more than once. And the answer is, I just sort of did, which isn’t really an answer. But it’s the best short answer I have.

Once upon a time, for many years, I was a writer. It was all I wanted to do and all I ever thought I would do. I worked online, in print, for editors, on spec. Fiction, drama, film journalism. In college, I got my first longterm writing job and quit my part time retail job, which never really paid much as the clothing discount sort of canceled out that whole paycheck thing.

I was writing screenplays and doing magazine work and starting to do some editing, too. Into my mid-twenties, I was a writer.

Photography was always something I loved, but not LOVED in the way I loved writing. (Not like something I’d tattoo on my foot.) The heart in “I Heart Writing” was a great big puffy heart of the “I Heart NY” sort, while the one for photography was a bit smaller.

I chose not to major in film because I felt that it was a world I grew up in and knew well. Maybe I’d go to film school for my MFA. Undergrad, I stuck with English Lit and Creative Writing. Words, words, words. Yet from my early teens, I was always carrying a camera or video camera. I was making short films and documentaries. I was winning awards for the stories I wrote, and the ways that I told them. Still, photography remained a hobby until I was hired to do some commercial work in 2005, and suddenly I had a hyphenated career. Every picture tells a story.

The social media news cycle made for writing deadlines more Broadcast News than anything I’d ever known. I was used to having 6, 8, 12 weeks to do research and interviews and develop a story. Suddenly it was 24 or 48 hours, maybe a week-ish. I could balance editing and writing, but photo had to give a bit.

And the timing was right. Because another one of those things I loved and always did but not for work was turning into work, and there was no way I could be doing ALL THE THINGS.

Hand lettering, modern calligraphy, writing in the most literal sense. When I was young it was for yearbook and addressing holiday cards. Later place cards and invites. And then, just a few years ago, I began asked to do it as work, and I found myself happy to balance the speed at which writing for the internet moved with the slow and deliberate pace of pen and ink.

In 2010, Type A Calligraphy was born.  (Tristan of Besotted Brand came up with the name.)

In the last several years, my writing life has changed so much I sometimes feel a bit adrift. The speed of social media work was hard to balance with creative habits I’d spent over a decade developing. But I looked at the direction writing work was going and wanted to evolve with it. Change was hard.

Do you know what doesn’t change much? Handwriting.

Sitting down with a ream of paper and a full inkwell is like meditation. I leave the desk and keyboard, or the pages of editing I’m marking up, and move to my dining room table where I sit down with one word or perhaps twelve. Focusing on the letters as they lose their meaning, becoming shapes and lines.

I write. And I write. Great big pink puffy hearts, I write.

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Disclosure: I received a Samsung ATIV tablet, as part of the #IntelTablets #TabletCrew but any and all opinions will be mine and mine alone – otherwise, I’d have to change the name of the blog. And I don’t want to do that.

If there was ever a doubt that cycles are hard to break, daylight-savings has occurred every year of my life, and each year it knocks me out of orbit for a few days. I’ll be working, and the sun is shining, and I realize it’s after 6pm, and wait, SIX? AT NIGHT? I gain an hour of sunlight, but feel like I’ve missed something along the way.

We had a bit of a summer sneak peek in LA last week, so I was working outside in the mornings and indoors as the day went on. (Happy to say that Dropbox makes working remotely on the tablet PC and in the office on a Mac a no-brainer.)

An unexpected bonus of more work en plain air is that along with my tablet and tea, I grabbed a camera as I headed outside. Cameras that have been collecting dust as I write more than I photograph. DSLRs left behind as my phone became my convenient point and shoot.

The first few days I sat outside writing, I noticed the neighborhood Cooper Hawk circling high above the Italian Cypresses (I’m sure there’s more than one hawk, but the idea of a group of them freaks me out). I saw hummingbirds flitting to and fro in the vines 15 feet overhead.

I grabbed my phone and took a few photos. The next day, I did the same with my camera. As I uploaded the shots, I looked at the things I captured that my phone never could. The same the next day.

I traveled and took a lot of photos last year, but there were a few times I didn’t bring an actual camera. A first for me, and a last. I loved the idea of being able to take pictures without a fuss. Without worrying about lenses or batteries. It seemed so convenient.

I’m generally happy with phone shots, I am, yet the pictures are often missing something when I look at them in print. They lack depth – visually and emotionally – that no app can create. Behind the camera, I wait to capture a moment. Holding up my phone, it’s just not the same thing.

A couple days ago, I was asked whether I liked this tablet PC as much as the iPad by a friend. I realized it was like the phone/camera analogy. Sometimes the iPad can conveniently do things I used to need

more equipment for, and that’s great, but it’s not a computer. This is a computer, and I appreciate all the things it can do without settling.

It’s becoming something of a 21st century trend to justify things we trade for the ability to save time, isn’t it? In writing If Emily Posted, whether it be about social media time management, understanding geotags or other social media concerns, rather than deal with what frustrates us, we tend to think of convenience as a reason to give up or get less.

I joined the Intel #TabletCrew with the intention of a PC platform and apps being good for IEP. Unexpectedly, it reminds me that having everything all in one place (“simplify, simplify, simplify”) is only a good thing if an all-in-one doesn’t mean I give up quality for convenience.

When it comes to life with screens, I’m often excusing the one for the other. In the case of the Samsung ATIV, less is not less. Except in size, which means there’s more room in my bag for my camera. And with DST, a bit more sunlight in my day. Win win.

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