Penmanship.

The rustle of paper. The gentle nudge of a mechanical pencil as lead inches out, 0.5mm at a time. The scratch of instrument on paper, marks forming words. Sentences form paragraphs, which congeal into meaning. Maybe it’s a plot, a poignant argument. Or an apt poem as the words trickle onto the page.

I still remember penmanship class in my first two years of primary school. Training 7 and 8 year olds how to write properly is an extremely dogged task. I have no idea how it happened. But learning to write, is somehow key to the development of myself. The words we put on paper, and how we do it, have become so central, so natural, that our handwriting is seen as an extension of our personality.

Writing with paper remains a central part of my life, as paper is still the main mode of instruction in public schools. And as a student in one of them, I write. I write lists, I write essays, I write on and over printed notes and worksheets. So, I would like to say that writing is very much alive to me, and I don’t think writing will die anytime soon.

But outside of school, how much do I write on paper? Being born in the 2000s, I never had the experience of sending long-distance postal mail to friends and relatives. I was thrusted straight into the turn of the times from analogue to digital. I do keep a notebook for writing, which also contains a vocabulary bank that I kept from age 10. I keep another notebook as a planner. Long lists of homework, assignments, classes and events trail off the page. Another notebook is used for concrete ideas and knowledge. Then again, I like it because I can scan it to Evernote.

So, my relationship with paper is strong, but not absolute. I write as much as I type, and printed work is slowly becoming the standard for assignment submissions as I move up the educational ladder. Switching to a pre-keyboard era would not only be unthinkable, but also potentially damaging to my workflows. Notes taken in class are in paper, but not necessarily for the things I do outside of class. Research is better done on the computer, and supplemented with typed notes or photocopies from the library. Presentations are done entirely on digital. There are 504 items in my assignment folder on my computer alone for the past year.

In our endless sprint into the future, we seem to be moving further and further away from the analogue. We can’t go back. However, we are still surrounded by what seems to be antiquated. And what is antiquated, may not be as far away as we think. Books line my shelves, copies of magazines lie around my workspace. Packets of worksheets are crammed into my files. Surprisingly, I still burn through an entire lecture pad every few months.

Pens and Pencils

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Featured Image: National Library Building, Singapore. ©2014 Wayne Yeo

 

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One response to “Penmanship.

  1. Pingback: Pondering my Handwriting | Zezee with Books·

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