Even though I drafted this blog entry on a keyboard, I much prefer writing with pencil and paper.  There’s a certain energy that exists when my writing implement flows across the page.  Sometimes it’s frantic, other times my hand moves with ease.  I find solace, motivation, and meaning when I write long-hand.  While my handwriting leaves much to be desired, I love knowing that generations to come can stumble upon one of my notebooks and discover a story.


As much as we’ve become attached to our electronic devices, there are moments when a handwritten document delights us more than a miniature-sized screen ever could. Do you remember how it felt to receive a letter in the mail from a distant friend or relative?  I grew up in the middle stages of the typewriter and electronic boom.  My friends and I wrote notes back and forth, leaving them in each other’s locker.  When my friends went away to college, I yearned for a letter to find out how they were doing.  Sure, you can do that now with social media and email, but once it’s on the internet it’s out there for public consumption.  If you send me a letter, I’m going to read it privately, fold it up, and store it until I stumble upon it while Spring cleaning years later.


A desire for continuous convenience and improvement led us to reading books electronically.  As a writer, the very idea that my novel wouldn’t actually be read in a paper format makes me cringe.  There are benefits to a digital format, absolutely, but nothing quite compares to holding a book in your hands.  I want my readers to have that sensation.  To feel the energy that went in to its creation.  To see the words typed on the page and have them come alive.


Doing genealogy research only amplified my love of handwritten communication.  Discovering a letter written by my ancestor in 1899, a funeral home receipt from the early 1900’s, and correspondence between my great-aunt and her Irish cousins, is nothing short of priceless.  Every now and again I like to unfold them (delicately) and re-read them, gaining a newfound appreciation for the care that went into each chosen word.  I frequently find myself saying, “People don’t write so eloquently anymore, with such grace.”  In today’s time, it’s all about brevity.  How many letters can you cut out of a word and still get your meaning across?  “I love you” is too important to be abbreviated.


I’m glad to know that I am not alone in the excitement of discovering old documents.  For instance, when I watch TV shows about ancestry research, I’m elated to see that the researcher moved, in awe, and excited when handling precious documents.  They have value, meaning, and beauty in a society that equates our handwriting ability with what font type we like best.  The art of writing by hand has fallen to the wayside and that’s a shame for not only this generation but for all those that are to come.