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The Fountain of Write and the Cursive Curse

October 5, 2011

A few weeks ago, my friend Misty informed me that the bookstore at the college where we work has begun to sell fountain pens. The Pilot Varsity pens are compact, disposable, and come in a number of different colors.

Excuse me for a moment while I squee.

My first test of my new pens—too excited to care about proper grammar

I now have six of these pens floating around in my purse, and I’ll soon have more because I’ve decided I must have at least one in green, my preferred color for editing. The nib has a nice rounded tip for smooth ink-flow, and it creates a bold, solid line without much bleed through (as long as I remember not to press as hard as I do with ball-points).

My friend Brooke describes the Varsity pens as “gateway pens” into a wider world of fountain pens. She also recommends the Platinum Preppy, and the Sailor Ink Bar, with an untested second-hand recommendation for the Lamy Safari. I, for one, am hooked on fountain pens; my poor ball-points, even my old favorite Pentel R.S.V.P.s, are now sorely neglected for anything but filling out forms.

When I first tested out the Varsity pens, I discovered that I had to change my handwriting style to use the pens smoothly. Since some point in middle school, I’ve mostly written in print style (except when writing in Russian, where cursive is expected). My English cursive has never been pretty or particularly legible, but it seemed somehow wrong to write in block letters with a fountain pen. So I tried cursive, and the letters flowed as they never have before, even with a lack of practice. When I switched back to try printing with the fountain pens, my handwriting turned into chicken scratch.

Cursive it is.

However, I did come across a stumbling block when it comes to cursive. I was taught D’Nealian cursive in the third grade, and I’ve always had some trouble with it. Let’s be frank; some of the letters are just plain weird. Oh, the lower-case letters make enough sense, but the capital letters get kind of bizarre. It took a lot of squinting for me to figure out how the capital S was actually an S. T and F sort of make sense, but have always felt awkward to write. I’m constantly confusing capital J for a G. And speaking of G, I only just grasped the connection between the cursive G and the print G in the last month, after years of trying to puzzle it out.

Don’t even get me started on Q. Have you ever really looked at the cursive Q? How on earth does it bear even a passing resemblance to the print Q? It’s the most nonsensical of them all. And I suspect I’m not the only one who was put off cursive because some of the letters don’t clearly correspond to the print versions we’re more familiar with.

So I had a dilemma. Using a fountain pen, my writing is faster, smoother, and more legible in cursive. But a rather large chunk of the letters don’t actually make sense to me. I have to think about how to write them, and it slows me down. I came to the decision that I had to take matters into my own hands and revise the way I write cursive capital letters.

The adjustments I’ve made aren’t exactly revolutionary, but they do make it possible for me to read and understand my own handwriting and to write with fewer pauses and smoother flow.

Do you have a favorite pen or style of pen to recommend? When you write by hand, do you use cursive or print? Do you write the way you were taught, or have you changed the style of your handwriting? Let me know what you think!

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10 Comments leave one →
  1. October 5, 2011 10:09 am

    The Lamy Safari is a truly lovely fountain pen, beautiful to write with and great for drawing too. I just love the design.

    • Anita M. King permalink*
      October 5, 2011 8:32 pm

      Good to hear! I’ll definitely keep it in mind, then.

  2. October 5, 2011 8:28 pm

    Just what I need, another pen addict friend.
    How often do you have to write capital “q” anyway?

    • Anita M. King permalink*
      October 5, 2011 8:34 pm

      Quite often. 😉

      Don’t worry, they haven’t gotten me quite as obsessed as they are, yet. And I think I’m a little pickier about what types of pens I like, so the damage may not be quite so widespread…

      • October 6, 2011 4:50 pm

        I really shouldn’t say anything considering the number of sharpies in my drawer and the new colorful kinda neon expo markers I bought today.

  3. October 9, 2011 1:10 pm

    I am constantly tweaking my cursive 🙂 And hey, I *never* got the capital “G” connection — and of course, there is the “D” from Disney that none of us recognized. And that Q. You and me both, babe.

    I am amazed at how few people actually do write in cursive these days, and you might have stumbled upon the solution: it’s our pens! Curse these disposable ballpoints! I took the GRE a few weeks ago and you have to copy — IN CURSIVE, they are very specific about this — a paragraph about how you’ll keep all their secrets or give over your firstborn child, yadda yadda, and I kid you not, the guy had to EXPLAIN to some people what cursive was.

    Thanks for sharing! *Communal sqee!*

    • October 9, 2011 1:10 pm

      (ahem) *squee

    • Anita M. King permalink*
      October 9, 2011 3:06 pm

      Take a close look at the capital G and imagine it without the lead-in and with the top closed in a circle.

  4. June 14, 2012 6:14 pm

    thanks! you really helped me with my homework

    • Anita M. King permalink*
      June 14, 2012 11:15 pm

      Thanks for stopping by, Emma. I’m glad it helped! What’s your assignment?

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