Writing and Reading

Yesterday’s post touched on the subject of writing longhand. One of the persons who reads my blog e-mailed me regarding my speculation that typing things out “keeps” up with the speed of thought better than writing longhand.

She tended to agree, and also mentioned that her handwriting reading ability had declined, something I had not considered, but seems evident in hindsight.

Pretty much everything most many people read these days is printed in type designed for optimal legibility. Handwriting is anything but: she mentioned she had to “get going” on it before she could read my handwriting with speed.

Sure, I can read my own handwriting no problem, but I can see where someone who is not used to it needs to “get going” on my handwriting before reading it without effort.

You can test this out yourself either with my handwriting samples from my last post, or from Wikipedia:


Go ahead and read it . . . it’s nice script, relatively easy to read, but you still need to “get going” on it.

Do a search on Civil War letters, and read them. These are true longhand letters . . . it takes a bit of effort to recognize the idiosyncrasies of the writer, to learn their style of letters, how they are drawn depending on their placement, etc.

None of that is necessary with the text of this post. The type is all standard, regardless of placement or usage. So much so that people don’t actually read all the letters, or even all the words . . . your brain is skimming the words, inferring what they are from how they “look” and a few of the letters.

It’s a lot harder to do that when reading someone’s longhand writing. You still do some of that, but you have to pay more attention, and if you’ve not seen the writing before, you have to “learn” how to read it before you can skim through it and have your brain put together the content of a sentence.

Go to THIS LINK, and read the original draft of the document above, written in Jefferson’s longhand . . . he had nice penmanship, as did many from the time, but you still have to “learn” to read his writing. I presume that is the case with everyone, but once you learn it, you can read it a lot faster than when you first saw it.

So, it’s not only handwriting that one needs to keep practice with, but reading handwriting, as well.

As for my handwriting . . . just the little writing I’ve done in the last few days has improved my output significantly. I suppose all the writing I did when I was younger left the muscle memory somewhere in there, waiting for it to be awakened. 

Handwriting001 Handwriting002 Handwriting003 Handwriting004

I do plan to keep practicing. When I am not trying to write something specific,  I freethought better writing longhand than by typing.

My raw typing speed is a tad over 60 words a minute (I don’t touch type, so I’m not that fast). For short messages it’s a tad faster as the sentences are already composed in my head.

 . . . yesterday I had a link to my NaNoWriMo Test Sample No 2, written in longhand.

I suspected that few people would click on it (two, as of this writing). I suspected it because people are both reluctant to go to a link, and because it was longhand. Well, no fear, here’s the transcription of the piece. Of course, I cleaned it up a bit, something I would have done anyway had it been typed.

NaNoWriMo Test Sample No. 2
Copyright E. J. D’Alise – 2014

Late at night, the building silent and nearly empty, footsteps can be heard a long way off. Oddly, these steps kept time with the tiny ‘tic’ from the running ceiling fan above my head.

. . . step/tic . . .  step/tic . . .  step/tic . . .  step/tic . . . tic . . . tic. . .

I looked up from the invoice I was working on . . . the steps had stopped in front of my office. I reached over to click the webcam icon on my screen, my other hand reaching for my gun, making sure of its placement.

The pop-up window opened; webcams are a good tool for private investigators, and wireless webcams even more so. The lattice of the heating grate opposite my office door came into view, as did a pair of legs, a skirt that ended below the knee, and sensible low-heeled shoes. I absent-mindedly noted the nice calves, no stockings, and tanned.

The legs just stood there . . . then half turned to the right. Then they turned to the right again, walked toward the webcam, and folded as the person knelt in front of the grate.

A face appeared; a face I knew.

“Hello Mike,” the lips slowly mouthed, exaggerating the words . . . she knew there was no microphone.

I got up, grabbing the gun as I did so, checking the chambers as I walked to the door.

The door opened before I got there. I stopped.

“Hello, Diana. Long time no see,” I said, and then I shot her.

She caught the bullet, opened her hand to look at it, and then gave me a look and a smile.

“Checking to see if it’s really me?”

“Something like that. You were dead the last time I saw you.”

“We don’t die, Mike . . . just go away for a while.”

“Come in, close the door,” I put the gun away as I turned, heading back to my desk.

I did not hear her move, but I was suddenly kissing the floor, my arm painfully twisted behind me, her lips next to my ear.

“Give me one good reason why I should not kill you,” she whispered.

“. . . uh, The Rules?”

“Give me another . . . “

“. . . because I love you?”

She pulled me up and kissed me. Not many humans loved or even liked our robot overlords, and the feeling was mutual.

Except for Diana and me. We were married.

To Be Continued.

This is another idea that is vaguely kicking around in my head. I think this is a tad closer in tone to what I want, but it still doesn’t have that Mike Hammer or Philip Marlowe feel to it . . . wish I still had those books. I suppose I could buy them, even read them before November 1, but really, I would like to come up with my ‘feel’ for the NaNoWriMo novel.

As I said, we’ll see. Meanwhile, I have some painting I need to do, more winter prepping for the yard, and prepping for a garage sale we might or might not have.

That’s it. This post has ended . . . except for the stuff below.


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