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Those writing woes between pen and paper

No, no, you’ve got it wrong about the ‘writing woes’ that have been referred to. This has nothing to do with good writing skills, but everything to do with rounding the g’s, dotting the i’s and cutting the t’s. Yes, a legible, beautiful, impressive handwriting. I can give an arm and a leg to acquire what in school parlance is called ‘a beautiful cursive hand’.

All of us who are into this writing business but do not fall into the writer’s category can never get tired of expressing our gratitude, over and over again, to the cumbersome typewriters of yore, or the sleek laptops of today for the neat typescript that conveniently hides our terrible hand. But there is a catch. If we scribble our thoughts on paper and leave it for long, we discover that the scribbled thoughts on paper too have an expiry date.

Often it has happened that I have peered closely at a sentence on the draft some days later after the ideas had got crystallised and found myself unsuccessfully trying to make sense of what at the time of writing would have been an appealing sentence. The tantalisingly unclear words suddenly make the keyboard go silent for a good minute or so. The mystery of the sentence only gets resolved by substituting it with another, and probably an inferior, one if we happen to believe in the adage, ‘first thoughts are best’.

But I wonder why many organisations still insist on handwritten applications from job-seekers. Do they want to expose our clan — ‘the masters of the spidery scrawl’ — though the reason can well be that handwriting tells a lot about one’s personality.

However, there might not be much to tell by way of the writer’s personality — that lost soul whose mind keeps on drifting on to the complexities of his or her next plot. However, with an abundance of ideas filling the head, it is increasingly being felt that a paper-pen combo is indispensable for the writer. Who knows when inspiration may strike? The fertile imagination must find its way promptly on to paper and, for the illegible ones, equally promptly on the keys.

At the same time, as I look back, I also derive a lot of satisfaction from the encouraging fact that most of my language teachers had impeccable English, but atrocious writing. Enough reason to delude myself into believing that their legacy is just being carried forward by me.

I still remember that incident when a communications expert landed in the school where I teach. It did not take me long to develop a natural affinity towards him.

The reason was not that he was good-looking, handsome and shared an alma mater (which I discovered later), but that he had the same horrible handwriting as mine, which was greeted with some not very loud titters by the children when he took to the green board to explain himself further. He confidently defended his messy work on board, saying that all people, good in the language, have poor handwriting. I need not say that in the process he unabashedly complimented himself, while I basked in reflected glory.

Now let me assure all those who suffer from ‘writing woes’ that, like every cloud has a silver lining, there’s a brighter side to this ‘handicap’, if one is inclined to call it so. The advantage is that our employers will never task us with any extra work, which needs a good artistic hand.

The tedious filling up of parents’ names and addresses of the students of my class (of which I’m the class teacher) in the invitations for the impending Sports Day at school has again been given to that colleague of mine with a fantastic hand, while I continue to save my time and energy to establish myself as a writer.

veejay.pant@gmail.com

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Printable version | Mar 27, 2020 1:00:15 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/open-page/Those-writing-woes-between-pen-and-paper/article14005398.ece

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