Friday, October 2, 2009
The Joy of Old-Fashioned Writing
I've been simply swamped so far this school year. We've completed six weeks of home schooling this autumn, and it's been rather overwhelming with helping Timothy adjust to high school, Jonathan adjust to junior high, Benjamin with his reading, all while Elizabeth races through her senior year, studying for her SATs and starting the college application process and planning visits to her possible choices.
But what can bring me a few minutes of relaxation? Spending time with my Lord in prayer. Soaking in my Jacuzzi. Reading the Twilight series or listening to them on my iPod. And writing.
Writing, though, is also my work. This weekend I need to do a great deal of writing: preparing for my co-op poetry class next Thursday, writing posts on organization and outlining for my online research class ... not to mention essays to grade for my co-op writing class which involve a great deal of writing as I comment on and encourage each student's work.
Blogging relaxes me but also puts pressure on me to produce something ... anything ... that works well, is intriguing, is helpful, is insightful. I doubt this post is any of those, but it's what's on my mind and heart this evening.
But the writing that really relaxes me, really puts me into a creative mood, is done without my laptop, without the seeming ease of distribution and clatter of fingernails on keyboard.
And it is achieved without my beloved Waterman fountain pen that I use for most of my daily writing and poetry composing. No, this manner of writing is even more old-fashioned than my hefty blue-swirled fountain pen.
I follow a blogger who writes with a manual typewriter and with pencils at La Vie Graphite. But as much as I enjoyed pounding on my mother's old manual typewriter from her college days, I prefer writing in an even more old-fashioned way.
The way I truly, truly enjoy to write is with my rosewood pen with a fine-tipped metal nib. I love the uncorking of sepia ink, dipping the pen into the glass bottle, and touching the nib to rich ivory paper -- either of my special embossed stationery or of my leather-bound journal.
The instant that the letters and words flow from the nib in elegant sepia swirls and scrolls, I feel stress rolling off my shoulders and out of my mind. I relax more deeply into my seat, allowing pen to move easily across the page, words flowing as mind captures them and translates them down my arm into hand and fingers, through pen to nib and ink where they sweep and pass, dot and cross, curve and whirl.
The simple joy of "for real" writing -- writing the way Shakespeare did ... writing the way Austen did ... writing the way Dickens did, embraces me. Even if it's only for myself in my journal in which I write approximately once per week, I still feel a trill of joy when I write with these elemental instruments, these simple tools of word conveyance.
Part of the attraction of writing thus, I candidly admit, is pure vanity regarding my penmanship. I would love to learn the Spencerian hand or Round-hand or perhaps Italian or German. Most of them are listed and shown in examples in the Dover edition of George Bickham's Penmanship Made Easy (pictured here).
As much as I like my own handwriting, I would LOVE to be able to make it look even more old-fashioned. Part of the key of doing so is using the correct writing instruments, which indeed I have, and part of it is in the slant of the pen in one's hand -- which is much harder to learn and do consistently. Later when I have some REAL free time, I'll work on it.
For now, I enjoy simply allowing letters and words to flow from my pen, watching the width of the line for the perfect moment to re-dip the nib into the bottle of ink -- not too soon while the pen is still glutted with ink, but not too late so that I have to rewrite the last letter or two after the nib ran dry.
Writing thus with wooden pen and metal nib dipped into a bottle of sepia ink relaxes me the way other women use crocheting or knitting to relax, yet still produce something of use and/or beauty. I enjoy writing actual notes and letters to friends in my efforts to not allow the art of letter writing to completely die out in this age of technology. It is a real joy to write thus, a joy for me as I write and, I sincerely hope, enjoyable for the recipients of my notes and letters as well.