For a couple of years now I have used a computer for everything from writing articles, to communicate, to playing games and to printing addresses onto envelopes. My laptop is never far away, it is usually by my side or on my knees, and the furthest it ever gets from my side is when I am on the toilet or in the swimming pool. Recently though I had to write a personal letter to my mother, just to say hello sort of thing and I thought that a printed letter would not be quite the right thing for the occasion.
Upon making the decision to write I assumed that it would be a relatively simple task to accomplish but all was not as easy as I first thought! Finding paper and pen proved quite a hurdle to climb over. The only paper I could find in the house was reams of unlined printer paper and some flowery toilet paper, my old and once-trusted fountain pen had more ink on the outside than in and the pen with a naked lady body just seemed so wrong to use!
I toddled off to the stationary shop to get the necessary and two hours later I repaired to the task in hand. I had my pens, I had my paper and I had a lovely cup of hot coffee to sip whilst jotting down my thoughts and life for my mother to read in due course!
Five minutes later I gave up! My hand was sore; it ached all the way up to the elbow and felt like I had just started to use it after six weeks in a cast!
My five minute foray into using a pen gave to me a lot to think about, apart from a sore hand that is. It brought fond memories flooding back of when I used to sit on planes, trains and buses with a notepad perched on my knees! I used to jot down notes about interesting things happening on my journeys; I used to let my thoughts wander whilst in motion and to later use these inane thought to make an article. I remembered how I used to build up ideas for future essays or articles by spending hours scribbling and dawdling, pondering and playing till hours, nay days later a finished product would surface out of the mess.
I remembered how I used to be a very relaxed person! I was often found curled up in front of the television or in a hammock in the garden, snuggled up under the covers or lying on the grass! I recalled how I used to turn my thoughts slowly and artfully into a product that I was happy with. And then two years ago that stopped like a bullet in the brain! My hobby turned, with a simple purchase of a laptop computer, into an automatic rush to develop and to produce without proper regard or actual knowledge that the finished product made any sense what-so-ever. Articles were started and finished quickly, without any searches for alternative discussion, pause or reflection and published without fanfare or enjoyment that I had once known. But I was so busy becoming a machine, just like the one that I had bought, that I did not realize and had no warning of what was going on. It was only this recent handwriting exercise that brought all that I had lost back to me like the flood from a damn broken!
Writing by hand has unfortunately become a lost art form that may never resurface! The computer and the keyboard, phones and mobile PDF devices have taken over from basic handwriting for anything longer than one sentence. For many the simple ability to correct mistakes, to alter and to expand documents with ease, the fact that most written notes have to be entered into a machine anyway and the fact that it is fashionable puts handwriting into the annals of history without second thought or hindrance! But what computers do is to take away the enjoyment, the fun and the relaxation that is synonymous with a pen and paper. Computers are machines that are so useful yet have taken the fun out of writing in one fell swoop.
I still put out the same number of articles, essays, pieces, etc. as I did before. Nobody has suggested since my laptop initiation that the quality of my works have diminished and certainly I now spend more time on other tasks or chores than I did pre-laptop times, but the pleasure has been removed.
I am now pondering a return to happier times. To write more by hand so that I may re-experience the leisure that was so much part of it all. But first I must strengthen up my right hand as five minutes is just not long enough!
About The Author
Ieuan Dolby - Author and Webmaster of Seamania. As a Chief Engineer in the Merchant Navy he has sailed the world for fifteen years. Now living in Taiwan he writes about cultures across the globe and life as he sees it.
This article was posted on April 03, 2005