“You Write Like a Girl”


Now what the Hell is that supposed to mean? I’m not talking about my style of writing (or voice) here or otherwise, but rather the way in which I actually put pen to paper.

I guess having legible penmanship was something that would only come natural to me. As a creative person, one that was interested in various forms of expression all of his life, I was always well aware of the importance of clarity in the message I wanted to convey. (You wouldn’t think so with the quality of some of my crap posts here.) Even before I took a drafting course in high school, I was already getting compliments from people about my penmanship, probably because I also used to do a lot of calligraphy when I was younger.

“You write like a girl,” they’d say. “I mean, guys don’t normally have such good penmanship.”

Um, okay. But allow me to even the scales by saying that I’ve seen my share of women with absolutely horrific writing skills, some of whom I work with–and one of whom is my own wife!

No, my writing is definitely not Palmer Method. (My mother-in-law will put you anyone to absolute shame in that category.) In fact I never write in cursive because I can barely read it myself. But I have four different styles in which I do write*:

  • Initial caps
  • Initial caps in italics
  • Upper and lower case
  • Upper and lower case in italics

While my norm for years was initial caps, once I became a straight proofreader I decided to ditch that style (at work at least) for upper and lower case in order to make things even clearer when marking proofs. That’s a case when, despite proofer’s marks, upper and lower case letters could definitely have an impact or could raise rhetorical questions. And when time is of the essence, sometimes we don’t have the luxury of dropping everything to ask a million questions.

The only reason I chose to bring this up tonight is because, as you can probably guess, I got yet another compliment from a woman at work about my penmanship. And in the days of e-mail, texting, and other forms of communication that don’t require using a writing instrument or paper, I’m afraid that the fine art of good penmanship will eventually go the way of the dinosaur.

But as long as I can write clearly, I’m pleased to say that I won’t be one of those contributing to its eventual demise.

* I’m avoiding posting samples. I’ve had enough bad luck with people pretending to be me lately.

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