Tuesday, December 27, 2016

The Flow of Words

"A good penman can make rivers that race to the sea, rivers as wild and dizzy as a flume in the Alps, as choppy as the Isarco, as wide and smooth as the Tiber at Ostia, or as deep as the Po where it rolls into the Adriatic."  - from A Soldier of the Great War by Mark Helprin

Imagine giving a greeting card to a young person. You've written a message with love and wonder.  The cursive lettering flies like birds across the play floating their wings and tails in space.

Opening the card, a surprised look crinkles her face.  Silence.  Then, "What is that below the Happy Birthday?" she asks, unable to read cursive writing.

One day the above will happen and I will feel sad about it.  Many individuals' writing today focuses on lettering rather than cursive writing. Writing in cursive is not taught in many elementary schools these days.

During my life, this functional art form has assisted me in creative thinking. I have discovered ways to doodle letters and felt the fun of the ink flow across a page.

My father's perfectionist eye pushed me to make leads and tails on vowels. Loops needed to soar high and low in consonants.  A classmate in fourth grade, also named Penny, showed me how to add flair to the P.

Raised on a ranch in Wyoming, my father likened the small r to a brand - the lazy e. 

He would not put up with a rounded top on an r.  I had to repeat it until it looked like his ideal.

Over the years, I observed the writing of teachers and friends to adapt my style. It continues to blossom.

For writers, cursive writing inspires both a meditative state and a way to access both sides of the brain for productive results.  The hand moves to stimulate the brain's logical side. Letters form words in artful flow from the right side's intuitive cells. Integration of both sides occurs as a result.

Writers need to feel the elegance of writing with a fountain pen and see its splash of color.

Since childhood, I've considered fountain pens my ponies. My mind has ridden bareback. Without use of a bridle or saddle, a variety of pens behave with finger pressure. Turquoise, emerald, magenta and sunshine flow from my thoroughbreds, Morgans, quarters and an Arabian or trail pony. The mustangs and stallions often buck the surface for new ideas. Lippizan stallions dance their air ballet.

These fountain pony pens combine with textured paper to push a progression of ideas. Ink on both rough and slick surfaces increases in speed for creativity capture. It slows to corral emotions and thoughts to ponder. Movement to cross a T or dot an i stays fluid without breaking the spell of rhythm and progress.

Cursive writing adds a magical quality to the writing process. Imagine a flight of colored birds or create your own metaphor.

Do you recall how you first learned cursive writing?  If you write in a journal or prepare initial drafts by handwriting first, consider in what ways it differs from composing on a keyboard. 

Have you transitioned from creating in handwriting to keyboard creating?  Do you go back and forth?

Handwrite a favorite passage or poem with a roller ball or fountain pen. Take time to form the letters, with leads and tails.  Then find a rhythm and feel the flow.

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