Long Hand

Long hand.

I am returning to writing in it. Today I decided to pick up my pen again.  To write long hand.

Long hand is the long, slow way.  The long way round.  Travel for the sake of travel.  Journeying for enjoyment.  Taking time.  The long hand of the clock moves slowest, but marks the greatest measure of time.  So long hand can be the long way to the purest, most reasoned, most considered, most deeply felt words.

Writing long hand forces us to take care of the journey, to take our time, to look at the view, to slow down.

This morning I noticed how untidy my writing was and realised that I was trying to write long hand as fast as I am used to typing.  Impossible!  So writing long hand takes on new meaning.  As I write with a pen I’m thinking about the way I’m forming my letters and words.  Thinking about ink pens and calligraphy.  Perhaps, in a time when most of us clack away on our keyboards, long hand will return to the revered art form it once was.

For years I kept a specially bound plain page notebook into which I carefully copied the poems I’d written that I felt merited keeping for history – to show my children and grandchildren.  A fresh page for each poem, carefully lettered in real old-fashioned ink.  To me I suppose it was a way of honouring my own words, or the words that had honoured me by appearing in that particular order, organisation, understanding.  The long way.

I think our words, poems in particular, arrive via the long way round, even though sometimes they seem to appear as if by magic.  They have travelled, brewed.  A loved one does not appear magically in ‘arrivals’ at the airport!  Sometimes we write the journey, sometimes it’s a long and arduous one we are keen to discard – how quickly do we leap in the shower after a long haul flight.  At other times it’s all about the journey and it is this that we show to our reader, rather than the arrival itself.

However words arrive, they have journeyed, the long way round, to be here.

Giving our words, or the words of others, the honour of being written in long hand is, I think, an art form that will not be lost or forgotten, but rediscovered, studied and cherished.

When I grow up, I want to be a scribe.

(c) Naomi Madelin 2011

For more on writing, see my blog post here

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