An Ode to Pen and Paper


“…watching the imprint of pen on page reminds us that writing is a craft. If everything is done on keyboards and fibre-optic wires, we may as well be writing shopping lists or investment reports.” Author Alex Preston

“For me, writing longhand is an utterly personal task where the outer world is closed off, just my thoughts and the movement of my hand across the page to keep me company. The whole process keeps me in touch with the craft of writing. It’s a deep-felt, uninterrupted connection between thought and language which technology seems to short circuit once I begin to use it.” Lee Rourke, The Guardian

We made our way to dinner in an outdoor Trattoria in Rome. The evening breeze brushed over us as I sat basking in the elation of being in Italy.

The aroma of fresh Bolognese sauce filled the air as the handsome waiter asked what we would like to drink.

“Vino!” I declared, happily using what little Italian I knew. He just smiled and I’m sure thought “Ha, tourist!”

But there was this feeling, this pure joy burbling inside of me that I relished. It was the awareness that a dream was being fulfilled: I was sitting in a foreign country and savouring every single minute. My mind took note of every detail, every sound, sight and smell and carved it upon my creative canvass.

When we returned to our hotel, all I wanted to do, needed to do, was reach for my travel journal and my pen and recount it all on paper before the images disintegrated into distraction. Sure there was the camera but the feelings conjured with each step I took needed to be recorded to accompany the photographs in order to fully capture the experience.

To me there is nothing like the physicality of holding a pen in hand and venturing to express something on the blank canvass that is a sheet of paper.

Sadly this Lost Art is rapidly being replaced by the keyboard.


Language itself is being reduced to acronyms as if people can’t find the time to fully express themselves anymore.

I think the act of genuine socializing is deteriorating because of it.

Today people seem to think that if they can whip off a note on the fly to a friend in a jumble of consonants, they’ve done their part in communicating. We confuse, “Yeah I talked to them,” with “They got my text.”

I’m not suggesting everyone sit and write a personal letter to a friend. That won’t happen. I get it.

It’s just that a pen in hand forces you to take the time, to stop, think and carefully craft your thoughts, feelings.

In writing, the best part is observing a train of thought from scattered beginnings to the clarity of a concise end. When you type, an inadequate sentence can immediately be wiped clean, never to be seen again.

A Smart phone keyboard does not demand as much. The very fact that Auto-spellcheck exists proves this point.

You don’t have to be careful, you just have to type.

Don’t get me wrong, I am guilty of texting too but I still sincerely value that good ol’ fashioned writing device and believe it to be necessary.

In fact, nothing is more attractive to me than a blank journal. I have several lying around as the very sight of them inspires me to create. I get excited at the idea of cracking a new leather bound book open and making that first ink stain.

I also love getting a letter in the (snail)mail, handwritten, scribbled, decorated with doodles. Emails are nice but the tangible letter, ain’t nothing like that as a sign of sincerity.

What that means to me is that someone took the time, sat down and let their thoughts flow endeavouring to share something personal with me that they couldn’t or wouldn’t trust to email. That’s also why I make my own personal greeting cards instead of sending e-cards to loved ones.

It irks me to think that even schools today are getting lazy. I understand they have to keep up with technology but the thought of teachers asking parents to send their child in with a laptop because they cannot decipher their handwriting is devastating! Do they not care about the consequences of eliminating writing? How will that child ever learn the right way if they are never shown how they can improve?

Sitting in front of a piece of paper awaiting genius or silliness or simple fun expressions, is a precious thing.

I know many people will disagree with me, choosing the speediness of a typing over the tediousness of handwriting and that’s fine.

But for me, I will cling to that dying art until every last writing device is gone.

peekiequeen copyright Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Daily Post Challenge: A Lost Art

More Interesting Reading on Longhand:
* The Guardian: Why creative writing is better with a pen
* New York Times: What’s Lost as Handwriting Fades