“A writer is not so much someone who has something to say as someone who has found a process that will bring about new things he would not have thought of if he had not started to say them. That is, he does not draw on a reservoir, he engages in an activity.”
– William Stafford
I remember the summer of 1974.
I was five years old and I was about to start kindergarten.
I knew that alphabet song, of course. I liked to sing it backwards.
A few weeks before school started I was very concerned that I did not know how to write my name, and I wanted to learn it, to practice it.
I have three older sisters. The oldest of them, Ann, she helped me. My other two sisters; Darcy, and Raney told me that I did not need to learn to write my name before school started; that is what they would teach me in school, they said.
I remember sitting down with Ann on the dining room floor, with a blue crayon in my hand, and a piece of lined paper. I practiced and practiced.
I wanted Ann to stay there with me and watch me do it, but after she saw me write my name onto the paper three or four times, she saw that I had it down. I knew the letters of my name, she felt that her job was done.
Without an audience, I grew bored as well. It was anti-climactic.
I am not sure exactly how I knew how to spell.
We had a puzzle set with wooden cut outs of the alphabet, I remember placing the cut out pieces into the tray where they belonged, each piece fit into its own spot, the alphabet (all uppercase) and the number line too.
We had alphabet blocks. Each block, a cube with a scored surface on its top and bottom; making it easy to stack them. There was an uppercase and lowercase image of every letter, and a couple of pictures of things whose names started with those letters.
A was for alligator, B for bumble bee.
Playing with those puzzles and blocks, touching them day after day, that must have been how I learned to put in order the letters for my name.
I was not a particularly accomplished hand-writer. I resisted learning cursive in elementary school. Those lessons began in the third grade.
I “printed” most of the homework and classwork that I turned in.
I sped through my cursive lessons as quickly as possible, knowing that when I was done I could move on to reading.
Reading was the most joyful part of my day.
Today my handwriting looks like a mixture of printing and cursive, with printing being the dominant form.
I could never write a whole paragraph in cursive form, though it is possible that I would write a long piece with only printed characters.
The norm for me is for some letters to loop together, and other letters will stand alone…rather than calling it printing or cursive, you might call it prinsive or cursing… I am not sure.
My handwriting has and always has been legible.
I received passing marks on it when I was in school, but never any stars.