Here’s a question for you: how often do you change your handwriting? Sounds like an easy question until you start paying attention to how you put pen to paper. In the last month I’ve changed how I write my lowercase ‘r’. I used to make a two-stroke motion which gave the ‘r’ a sharp authoritative corner. Unfortunately it looked a lot like my other letters and was as an Austrian efficiency expert might say, very vasteful! Why two strokes when one will do?! Now my ‘r’ is a gentle swoop from upper right to lower left, but I find myself struggling to end up vertical, with the effect that my ‘r’ looks like it’s racing forward like Miss Clavel running to a room of crying girls.
Why do I do this? In third grade I got a ‘D’ in handwriting. Just imagine the teacher who needs to post such a low grade to a little boy with buck teeth and a crooked haircut. Third grade! Since then I’ve been trying to improve my handwriting, even switching my career to architecture so I could have cool architect’s hand-lettering skills. Which I can do with a smooth brightly-lit surface, a straightedge, and a few hours’ time. But when I’m writing checks or notes I my hand cramps up after a single page and self-doubt buzzes in my head like a hornet’s nest hit by a baseball. Adjust that capital P or just leave it? Why such a long tail on the lowercase ‘g’? Come on, get that end stroke on the ‘O’ to meet up with the beginning, it looks like a 6! Zis is no good!
I think the only solution is to become so powerful and respected that indecipherable handwriting is like a rune to be deciphered by sycophants and biographers. Until then, I’ll just keeping working on my ABCs.