When most people say “I wish I could write,” they are referring to the ability to compose–usually, prose. Since I am a writer by vocation and by perhaps genetic predisposition, when I say “I wish I could write” I mean longhand. I wish I could pick up a pen or pencil and scribble words on the pages of a journal as I used to. But I can’t. Not for much longer than a few sentences, anyway. I have horrible penmanship (or Penwomanship).
Somehow, as the years have gone by, my longhand muscles have atrophied. I actually get hand cramps, and the next day, can’t even read what I scribbled on a Post-it the night before. I suspect some of this decline is through disuse– with the evolution of the writing instrument–but it’s not as though there were no typewriters when I was a young writer. Contrary to the grumblings of my midlife crisis, I’m not THAT old. I used typewriters quite a bit.
But I also wrote longhand, in journals and on steno-pads, and legal pads. I haven’t kept a handwritten journal since about 1990. The allure of my fingers flying across the keys that placed uniformly neat and legible words on a page at a rate closer to the speed of my thoughts, was at once too seductive to ever allow me passage back to the drudgery of longhand.
And it’s a good thing, too, because my penmanship is like the footprints of worker ants through ink. Most self-respecting graphologists would analyze it and pronounce me criminally insane.