An Author with Poor Penmanship

29 May

Recently, I sent out letters and signed swag to some of my super fans who attended an online release day party for my books. And like so many times before that, I found myself dreading writing the letters. Why? It’s simple really.

I am an author with poor penmanship.

Now, please don’t tell me “I’m sure it isn’t horrible, you’re just being humble,” because, seriously, I struggle to read my own handwriting…and it’s never going to get better, no matter how much I practice or try.

My story is a little strange, but here it goes.

When I was eleven, I was at basketball practice before school when I tripped and fell. The growth plate in my left wrist fractured pretty severely, but, for those of you who don’t know, at that age, your growth plate is malleable. And it didn’t show physical signs of injury. (No bruising, blood, etc.) So when I went to the nurse’s office to explain the pain I was having, she wrote me off and said I was trying to avoid a math test I had later that day. (This still blows my mind, because I was a straight-A student, and I’ve always loved math.) Nevertheless, she sent me back to class and never called my father. Fast forward twelve hours later, and I’m in excruciating pain when I get home. At this point, the school told my father, and he is medically trained, so he took me to the hospital. Problem was, the damage was basically done. My left wrist is still damaged today…I’m also naturally left-handed. So, I had to learn to write with my right hand, and it’s atrocious. Yes, I can write with my left, but it hurts, so I basically type everything. Conclusion: My handwriting is UGLY.

But I can’t exactly explain that story to my fans in every letter. I’m always anxious when I write letters to fans, because I’m afraid of what they’ll think. Will they think a four-year-old wrote them a note? Will my poor handwriting ruin the excitement of the letter for them? I see all these beautiful letters authors send to their fans and my handwriting becomes an insecurity of mine.

Then I got to thinking…Why do I have to have an excuse for poor penmanship?

 My handwriting doesn’t change my ability to write a story. Other than struggling to read my own notes sometimes, I’ve never felt at a disadvantage for bad handwriting because that’s silly. But I’m still insecure about it. I see my chicken scratches in books I’m signing for fans and I cringe at my letters to others, and I worry that they’ll judge my handwriting, as if someone with bad handwriting can’t possibly be a writer.

I’m trying to get over this insecurity of mine, but here I am, still frowning when I mail out letters. Maybe one day I’ll be 100% confident in my chicken scratches. Or maybe I will continue to love typing more than handwriting.

You see, I find typing beautiful.

I’m a typist. My mother was also a typist. In fact, she was an associate for a lawyer, who had poor spelling, so she was constantly typing and re-typing his documents. He also smoked a mint pipe, and I remember this fondly. (Why? I will never know.) But when I was sick from school, I would sit in the lawyer’s office, sipping Sprite, and watch my mother type and type and type.

As a kid, I remember watching my mom type like someone would watch a pianist play the piano. Her speed was rhythmic. I found the entire process hypnotizing. And this is before I broke my hand or became a seasoned writer. All I wanted to do was learn how to type. And when I was in college, I would calm down after class by re-typing my notes.

I find it easy to lose myself in the keyboard. I’m at home when I’m using the keyboard. And, for me, the keyboard is my form of expression. The keyboard gives me a voice, and I can’t imagine anything more beautiful than that—even envy-inducing calligraphy.

It would be nice to write beautifully one day…but I think it would be even better if I found a way to let me insecurity go.

I always have my keyboard.

~SAT

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17 Responses to “An Author with Poor Penmanship”

  1. Andrew Reynolds May 29, 2017 at 12:15 am #

    Like you have very bad penmanship – so bad, I often can’t read my own writing. I could just never master it. No injuries, just don’t have the control to do it. If it wasn’t for typing, I could never write. I get it.

    • Shannon A Thompson May 29, 2017 at 12:41 am #

      Thank you for sharing your story! I often feel so alone – or silly – with this, but I just can’t help but associate handwriting with…well, writing. It’s nice to know I’m not alone. I appreciate your comment. 😊
      ~SAT

  2. josiesvoice May 29, 2017 at 3:16 am #

    I only consider bad penmanship as bad if it’s unreadable.Otherwise, how it looks isn’t relevant to me as long as I can read it. Our handwriting is symbolic of our inner personality. A handwriting analysis by an expert can reveal it.Cheer up!

    • Shannon A Thompson May 29, 2017 at 3:18 am #

      Oh! Getting my handwriting analyzed would be interesting.
      ~SAT

      • josiesvoice May 29, 2017 at 5:07 am #

        It’s something interesting to pursue. To save costs , try inquiring at your local university’s psychology dept. They may suggest some referrals which may cost nothing or at most, at little cost to you. Do this when you feel ready to do so a part of your personal adventure.

  3. J.R.Bee May 29, 2017 at 4:03 am #

    I have pretty bad handwriting, I have no excuses. When I was at school I used to write so small my English teacher would complain she couldn’t read it, so I had to learn to write larger letters. I also learned to right joined up, because that was the fashion at the time. Another habit I had to kick. From time to time I feel like I need to improve my writing, and if I try very hard I can make individual letters look nice, but the whole effect looks childlike, because it’s inconsistent.
    But it doesn’t matter because I don’t write very much, all my writing is done on a keyboard too.
    I may just go back to joined up writing, to find my style again, after all, there’s no teacher going to tell me off for it now. Although it might be a hard habit to bring back.

    • Shannon A Thompson May 29, 2017 at 4:05 am #

      Thank you for reading and commenting! It’s really interesting to hear about other writing journeys (and identities around it). 😀
      ~SAT

      • J.R.Bee May 29, 2017 at 4:07 am #

        Yeah, who knew I had so much to say about my handwriting 😀 I hope you don’t mind, but I’m stealing the topic and my comment for a blog post. I will mention where the idea came from of course.

      • Shannon A Thompson May 29, 2017 at 4:11 am #

        Of course! I don’t mind at all. The whole point of blogging is to open up the floor for the topic, right? 😀 Write away! I look forward to reading your post.
        ~SAT

      • J.R.Bee May 29, 2017 at 4:14 am #

        You basically already have 😀 I’m writing I different post today, but I now have it ready to go for tomorrow.

      • Shannon A Thompson May 29, 2017 at 4:16 am #

        Then I look forward to reading it again. 😀
        ~SAT

      • J.R.Bee May 29, 2017 at 4:22 am #

        Thankee me dears 😀

  4. Accidental Spacegirl May 29, 2017 at 4:13 am #

    My handwriting used to be beautiful, but it’s little more than illegible spider scribble now. Part of the reason for that is that epilepsy has destroyed a lot of my coordination, and my lovely handwriting went with it – but I also haven’t properly handwritten anything for years; even greeting cards from me are printed by whichever online greeting card site happens to have the right card for the occasion and the individual. It’s as though my hand has actually forgotten how to hold and use a pen.

    I have so many beautiful notebooks that remain untouched. I’ve always loved stationery and collect it, but I will never spoil it with my shameful script. If I want a notebook to actually write in, I buy cheap and nasty spiral notepads from Asda.

    Keyboards are quite another story though; I seem to be a natural!

    • Shannon A Thompson May 29, 2017 at 4:16 am #

      It’s amazing that keyboards have helped so many people write again, isn’t it? Thank you for sharing your story, too! I also love notebooks. Even though I don’t use them as often as I use to, I always love browsing office supplies. And I love my G-2 pens. I actually own a beautiful notebook I refuse to write in for the same reason as you. But I enjoy staring at it. 😀
      ~SAT

      • Accidental Spacegirl May 29, 2017 at 4:21 am #

        My husband bought me a beautiful Totoro notebook and pen set; it’s still in its box and is only to be admired! I’ve got a couple that look like centuries-old nautical journals too, but when they arrived I decided they are far too stunning to actually use. If I decide to write about my week in Sweden while I’m there, that will be done on a laptop and printed out for me to keep when I get home, as I refuse to ruin a beautifully bound diary. I’ll just have to detail the trip as well as I possibly can and take plenty of photographs for posterity 🙂

      • Shannon A Thompson May 29, 2017 at 4:28 am #

        Oh! Those sound beautiful! I have a journal from France that was sent to me as a gift that I refuse to touch. I hope you have a great time in Sweden, too!
        ~SAT

  5. Elise @ The Book Forums May 29, 2017 at 5:31 pm #

    I love this post! It’s always the content of the story/letter that matter most, not the font they are written in! It’s crazy how a nurse would just write off an injury like that, but I’ve heard stories of people who walk on a broken foot for weeks before finding out… so what do I know! 😄
    I also find typing weirdly relaxing. I don’t know why but when I sit down and just start typing all my feelings and thoughts into a document, it can always calm me. I used to think it was so cool how my parents could type so fast and I would “practice” typing on an old keyboard that wasn’t actually plugged in. And by practice I mean smash random keys really fast so I felt like I could type quickly. It was my way of pretending to be grown up!

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