The Pen Is Mightier Than… the Keyboard?

Well, my pen is — or I guess I should say pens. Because I have a lot of them. Really. A. Lot. I was in STAPLES yesterday and improperly fondled a twenty-something pack of Sharpie colored, fine-point markers.

I felt compelled to talk about my pen addiction because of an article I read this week in the New York Times. (Thanks to Matt for the link.) The author complained that the concentration on the handwriting curriculum in schools is useless because how many of these kids will even need pen and paper in the future? Of course, it didn’t help her case when she lamented the fact that her child was making poor grades in his handwriting lessons, but she (…a …writer) goes on to add that the only time she picks up a pen is to sign her name on a credit card receipt. That admission just saddened me. Here’s a published author who can’t be bothered to slow down and submerge herself in the process that helped her hone her craft.

I still love the feel of a pen in my hand as it scribbles across the page. I’m comforted by the sound of the metal tip as it scratches along the paper. I feel an immense pride and a swell of satisfaction in seeing my handwriting fill page after page of black, spiral-bound journals.

That’s not to say that I never write from scratch at the screen. At my last job, I wrote almost all my articles at the keyboard. I’ve written that way at home as well, but when I need a jump-start, when words can’t appear the way I need them to, I pick up a pen.

Those who’ve had less than stellar handwriting probably welcome any technological advances that reduces their need to compose by hand. Kids definitely have embraced texting as a way to deliver notes instead of the old-fashioned, cleverly-folded, handwritten letters. But each invention makes me a little sadder because I fear we take one step toward going paperless.

Edward Bulwer-Lytton thought the sword was a lesser foe to the pen. Oh, if he could only see what he was up against in the future!

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