Monday, May 21, 2007

Do You Hate Your Handwriting? (Do You Hate Mine?)

Obviously some of you don't hate your own, as you compose books by going scribble scribble scribble.

My maternal grandfather, Boots Davidson, was a Texarkana boy who made his living picking cotton, ranching, doing The Iceman Cometh thing back when they had Icemen to Come, driving big rigs, working tractors and bulldozers, and a host of other manly endeavors. And hidden away in his rather small collection of personal goodies, he had a middle-school Best Penmanship trophy.

If penmanship is genetic, it skipped right on past my generation. My sisters have better script than I, but not by much (sorry, Amber and Kristie. The truth hurts sometimes.) All three of us pretty much write as though we'd gone to medical school. If I wrote my novels on paper instead of on the computer, I'd have to hire a pharmacist ("chemist" to you folks Over There) to transcribe it.

(What is it with your "chemist" thing, anyway? My sister Kristie has a PhD in Chemistry and is a professor of the subject; she's a "chemist" if anybody is. And so is her husband Ron, maybe even more so. But they can't dispense drugs, either of them. I've asked. Hell, begged.)

Part of my problem is that I bear down too hard. You can flip over a page I've written on and read the back with your fingertips as though it were a new sort of Braille. In a past life, I must have been a cuneiform scribe, making suns and eagles and squiggly water in little clay tablets. Or maybe I was one of those guys who carved quotations into marble, weaseling out of chipping "U" when I could get away with "V". (What are those guys called, anyhow, chiselers?)

This whole thing worries me. Because there is now the distinct possibility that I might have to sign a book for someone, somewhere, someday. And even write something besides my pawprint and the legend "His Mark." What are people going to think when they take my book home, look at the inscription and see that it reads "Bzyzr Wshzstehy, KyulÝpey ZanÑffches! Dvvf Tmmmss Iffff" ?

Should I be going to handwriting school? Would it be wrong to hire a ghost penperson to sit beside me and channel my intentions? Should I bandage my hand and look injured?

Should I shut up and get back to work?

[An aside: A friend of mine was lucky enough to have his scholarly and--who can deny it?--rather dry dissertation published as a book. He gave a copy to a pal of his, and asked, "Do you want me to sign it?"

His buddy replied, "No thanks. I'd like to own the only unsigned copy."

Nonwriters are mean.]

1 comment:

Matt Curran said...

I have terrible hand-writing. Hence why I type to write - could never read my own handwriting anyway!

I have the same problem, David - if someone asks me to sign a book, I always hope the requested inscription is short as after the first dozen words my handwriting evolves into horrible gibberish.

And my signature had to change too into something reasonably legible - my cheque signing signature looks like someone spewed ink all over the page and then danced across it in tiny boots.