I find that I don’t write the best when I use a fountain pen. Why is that? Is it because the nib is a bit large and I can’t see what I’m writing properly? Is it the ink flow? Is it how the nib interacts with (scratches) the paper surface? Is it because the ink takes too long to dry? It may well be all of the above, but I tend to think that it might be psychological: that writing with a fountain pen feels a bit ‘ceremonial’ or ‘ritualistic’, hearkening back to a time when writing was more formal and when communication was more precious and less ubiquitus. I find that the more expensive the pen and the nicer the quality of the paper, the more difficult it is to write nicely. I began using fountain pens when I was in primary school, so why would it be an issue? Perhaps it has something to do with my taking up of calligraphy as a serious hobby, where a lot of discipline is involved?
Learning calligraphy was a process of copying exemplars of different ‘scripts’ or ‘hands’, which is a very self-conscious process. At first the objective is to imitate, stroke by stoke, letter by letter. The first mission is to make sure that the letterforms look exactly like those in the examplar. Not until after the forms are retained in memory does one start to see individual letterforms as groups, forming words, sentences and passages. It is then that the idea of rhythm or flow comes to the fore. The forms of the letters have to become second nature before rhythm can be achieved. A degree of spontaneity is necessary. If one is too self-conscious about each letter they are forming, the rhythm won’t come naturally. Self-consciousness makes writing appear contrived and unnatural. Getting warmed up first usually does the trick. Or just not be too precious about any piece of writing and let it come naturally. Easier said than done. I often run into this problem.
Does handwriting convey personality? Graphologists seem to think so. But we have been taught to write in a certain prescribed way. Or for calligraphers, we learn to write different scripts/hands and can imitate numerous styles, so perhaps we calligraphers are a bit different? Not sure about personality, which runs deep. But moods and feelings at the moment of writing can perhaps be easily conveyed. Do digital text and typsetting work as disguise then, and strip texts of any authenticity? How can authenticity be conveyed in published texts?
(first draft written in ink on paper, final draft in Byword)