Thursday, May 9, 2013

It's All in the Wrist: Hand-written manuscripts

Of all the regrettable things I produce in the course of a day--sulfurous farts, careless/thoughtless words to my wife, aggressive driving maneuvers--the thing I hate the most is my handwriting.  Somewhere along the line in my primary education I was never schooled on beautiful penmanship.  The only cursive writing I ever mastered was my signature.  And when I say "mastered," I mean I've perfected the illegible scribble which can be splashed across a dotted line in 2.4 seconds.

My handwriting is a thing of ugliness: squat, misshapen letters: "e"s with imperfect loops, "t"s that look like they have scoliosis, capital "D"s that have way too much flair and ego.  It's painful for me to look at a page of my scrawls.

But I'm fascinated by the handiwork of other writers.  Flavorwire recently unveiled a gallery of handwriting samples from the likes of F. Scott Fitzgerald, Mark Twain, Marilynne Robinson and Edith Wharton.  This is like cracking open the skull and getting a peek inside to the mind of the writer, as evidenced by the flow of ink from the hand.  Consider, for example, the heavy, ink-besotted cross-outs of Charles Dickens:

Or the neat-as-a-military-barracks-cot letters of John Steinbeck:

Or the upslant of Gustave Flaubert:

Or the battlemap diagrammatic arrows of Nabokov:

So, in an act of personal courage, I thought I'd give you a taste of my own irregular chicken-scratchings.  These are the pages (the only pages thus far) of a novella I started about six months ago (working title: FOB Sorrow).  This was an experiment, of sorts.  I wanted to see if I could write a novel long-hand.  You know, like they used to do in the old days.  As you can see, I didn't get very far--not because of cramped hands or the horror of seeing my misshapen letters, but because I got busy and distracted.  Maybe someday I'll return to FOB Sorrow.  For now, this is all I have, in all its sloppy handwritten glory (you may have to click each image to enlarge for readability):


  1. Okay, I'm hooked. Please finish this story - I want to know what happens!

  2. Following in the footseps of Neal Stephenson. Extra points for using a quill pen while drinking single malt scotch.