Esquire Piece:  The Lost Art of Writing by Hand (2002)
Posted: 18 July 2008 02:25 PM   [ Ignore ]
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Total Posts:  485
Joined  2005-10-08

The Lost Art of Writing by Hand
BY Elmore Leonard
Esquire (Feb 2002)

Leonard-the author of Get Shorty, Out of Sight, and the upcoming Tishomingo Blues-penned this piece with a black Paper Mate Ultra Fine Flair to give it a bolder look than that of his customary Montblanc.

Fifty years ago I sold my first story to a magazine that I wrote in longhand and then typed on a Royal portable;  I still write all my fiction by hand and sometimes letters, but I can’t say it’s to preserve an art form.

I write using longhand because writing is rewriting and if I’m to compose on a typewriter, I’d spend half my time x-ing out lines.  I write and cross out not wanting what I write to sound like writing; write a few more lines until the rhythm of the narrative or dialogue exchanges kicks in and I keep going, the lines getting closer together though rarely filling a page before I’m crossing out again.  Finally I stop and type on an IBM Wheelwriter 1000 and the handwritten pages go into a basket.  The typed pages – hoping to get four or five clean ones in an 8 hour shift – are revised the following day.

I began writing with a 29-cent Scripto, moved up to a 98-cent pen that had to be orange, used two $7.95 Paper Mates long enough to wear grooves into the stems from my knuckles, and for the next dozen or so years have been writing with a maroon Mont Blanc that came as a favor at a Pen America function.

Well-meaning friends urge me to use a computer, but I don’t more for the dull sound of the keys or the idea of looking at my work on the screen rather than a sheet of yellow paper, and when you delete, I’m told, it’s gone forever.  The lines I cross out are still there and sometimes find their way back into the work.

A woman in one of my books, who studied hand writing analysis as a hobby, became depressed following a hysterectomy.  What she did was change her style of writing to one that indicated an outgoing personality and brought herself out of her doldrums.

Elmore Leonard


Posted: 18 July 2008 07:25 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
Power User
Total Posts:  315
Joined  2008-04-04

Thanks for all these gems, Robb.
I only came across EL about a year ago. It’s great to read all these pieces that I didn’t know about.

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