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Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Signature Rules

Happy New Year everyone! It’s National Trivia Day – did you know there are more stars in the sky than there are specks of sand on earth? It’s also National Book Blitz Month – have fun, everybody! And it’s the first Wednesday of the (first!) month, when IWSG members convene through blogging, Facebook and Twitter to talk about whatever is on our writing minds and agendas. See what we’re all talking about here.

A couple of weeks ago, Arizona announced plans to reinstate Cursive Writing into school curriculums statewide. Since I had no idea it had ever been dropped in the first place, I was astonished and disconcerted by the idea of printed signatures – autographs? How could something as personal as a signature be deemed unimportant? Without knowledge of cursive writing, how would anyone be able to read the Constitution of the United States?

Not that I’m what you’d call a ‘practitioner’ of cursive writing myself. Frankly, my handwriting closely resembles the baffling shorthand gibberish found on prescription slips dispensed at medical offices everywhere. Instead, I rely on a works-for-me mix of both cursive and printing when composing my most prolific grocery lists. And isn’t there just something so satisfying about the act of handwriting itself? 

According to relatively new (2014) evidence provided by a panel of neuroscientists and psychologists, there are links between handwriting and broader educational development that run much deeper than ever before thought. Stanislas Dehaene, a French psychologist, suggests that “There is a core recognition of the gesture in the written word, a sort of recognition by mental stimulation in the brain.” 

No wonder I’ve never written a poem without a pen. However, evidently this stimulation is remarkably reduced when typing. Ack! I can’t live without my keyboard! I cry. But then, I’m not in middle school any more. So, what or who changed the rules for the education (and mental stimulation) of children?  It seems the creators of Common Core didn’t deem it necessary in the digital age!  Thankfully, some rules are truly meant to be broken ;-)

Which brings me to the question of the month: “What writing rule do you wish you’d never heard?”  Since I should pick only one (grin) it would be that all proper names must be capitalized, as in author names on book covers. Could this explain why Prince changed his name to a symbol for a time? ;-)  Actually, it relates to me never having mastered the art of capital cursive (there it is again!) letter Ds. You might say writing my name in lowercase letters is my trademark, since grade school. But I was advised in no uncertain and rather unkind terms (by a publisher!) that it was unprofessional. Horse Feathers! I say. What ever happened to creative freedom? Besides, I see the use of lowercase names and titles everywhere. Should that have been a deal-breaker?

How do you write your grocery lists? Could you live without cursive writing? How about typing?

National Train Your Dog Month!


  1. Hi, diedre!

    I am ashamed of myself for having known you so long and never before having noticed that you write your first name in lowercase. Please forgive me! I am usually very good at spotting such things. I am a great believer in creative freedom and have no problem taking an author seriously if they break the rules. In fact I tend to appreciate them all the more for it.

    I can't imagine a world without cursive writing. It is a beautiful, artistic means of expression that reveals a great deal about the individual. I am shocked to learn through your post that its importance is diminishing in the educational system.

    I am left handed. Learning to write was a challenge for me and, to this day, my hand drags across the page and smears the fresh ink as I write - very frustrating. However, I am proud of the fact that, in grade 5, I won a penmanship contest - best handwriting in my class. Ironically, the second and third place finishers, both girls, were also southpaws.

    It's great to see you back on PP, dear friend diedre. Happy New Year to you!

    1. Hi Shady!
      No apologies necessary, my friend. You are perfectly proper! As am I - usually ;-)
      As a fellow southpaw, I too (as I mentioned) had a time with cursive writing. Try as I might, elegant penmanship was not something I ever mastered. Conversely, grandma's handwriting was quite lovely. She didn't even need lined pages or a ruler to keep sentences from trailing off the page!
      Kudos on your penmanship contest win! Since lefties are more likely to be male than female (a little trivia), I also cheer the two runners-up in the contest ;-)
      So glad you didn't give up on me!
      Happy Trivia Day!

  2. Happy New Year, diedre. ☺ I am stifling the grammar Nazi in me and using lower case for your name. Sorry, couldn't help myself. LOL Didn't e.e. cummings start that trend, back in the '50s or '60s? Of course, everyone should have creative licence to do as they wish (like contracting "Doglady" into one word). It was shocking to learn that schools had stopped teaching cursive writing and I'm glad that some states have reconsidered. Good point about the signatures! My grocery lists are like yours, a combination of handwriting and printing. Writing should always be taught, IMO. Typing is important too. Can't do a blog post without that particular skill. Cheers!

    1. Hi Debbie!
      Ha! I know, as a stickler for picking up on grammatical errors myself this makes for a rather perplex subject ;-)
      I think you're right about e.e. cummings - which I didn't even realize until much later. I recently read a piece containing a generous amount of dialogue with no quotation marks whatsoever. I couldn't get passed it enough to say what the story was about!
      There were a good many states that refused to adopt (or rather, drop) the cursive writing mandate. There are several states, including mine, that are now backing out. It seems a shame to discard a timeless method for one that is simply easier.
      That being said, as one with atrocious handwriting, I'd be lost without my keyboard!
      Happy New Year, dear Debbie ;-)

  3. HiHelloHowdy, diedre ~
    You know, I'd been meaning to ask you why you capitalize Knight but not diedre.

    I think that's totally wrong and I may stop following this blog because of it. I mean, imagine if e.e. cummings wrote his name as e.e. Cummings.

    Alright, seriously... I agree with Mark Twain who said that a writer ought to learn all the rules FIRST, and then break them as they see fit. (Because let's face it, a person who doesn't know the rules to begin with is not a rebel but an ignoramoose! Up with rebels, but down with ignorami.)

    I myself break some of the rules -- like capitalization, and starting a piece with the word "I" every time "I" feel like it (if Thoreau could do it, so can "I"!) -- but I'm rebelling when I do it, not bein' stooped.

    When I was a little boy, some girl in the neighborhood who was a bit older than I was and whom I had a crush on, wrote her name in cursive in the dust on her garage door. Then she told me that next year in school they were going to teach me how to write like that. I was mad because I had JUST LEARNED how to print. And now they were going to FORCE ANOTHER way of writing on me?!?!

    Well, guess what! I agree that cursive should be taught, even though to this day I print everything. Even my signature is mostly just my name printed at an extreme slant.

    Always rebelling against sumpin', daz me!

    ~ D-FensDogG
    'Loyal American Underground'

    1. Howdy, Reno!
      Ha - You crack me up! It's all about the D. Or rather, d. Truthfully, I also could never make a decent cursive W, for my maiden name Welch. Oh well.
      Typically I am a staunch rule follower and fret no end if I'm not sure of something.
      Great point about having just learned how to print - have you ever seen any of the Common Core Math equations? Just when I thought 2 + 1 couldn't be any easier, they want it figured four different ways. And this is efficient?
      Glad you agree about keeping cursive writing ;-) Whether or not we can all do it well, I think it's important.
      Ha! So, should it be "Rebel Reno" now?
      Happy New Year!

  4. The only time I actually use cursive writing is when I have to sign my name. haha I just never really got the hang of it. I wanted to write fast, and I can write faster when I print.

    So now I know why you spell your name with a lowercase D. :D I do think it's you're trademark. For characters, their names should be capitalized, I will say that, but an author name could be lowercase if the author wants it that way. Look at it as a pen name. Your "pen name" is the lowercase D.

    1. Hi Chrys!
      Ha, I'm with you and the 'only my signature' thing! I always thought that cursive was faster, but either way, my handwriting is (sadly) illegible ;-)
      Pen name sounds better than type-o, I like that. But I do agree capitalization is pretty much a cardinal rule and could certainly interrupt reading flow.
      Love your new profile picture!

  5. What I'd like to know about the stars/sand trivia is who exactly counted these and how many of each did they finally end up with? I guess that's a bit of trivia you'd have to take with a grain of salt--or maybe sand.

    I stopped cursive writing long ago and began printing when I wrote by hand. My father tended to do that as well so maybe I'm just emulating him--don't know why he did that. I can still write in cursive, but I prefer print and over writing by hand I tend to mostly type on my keyboard. I do well remember learning cursive writing in school. It's a worthwhile endeavor for students to pursue in my opinion.

    Arlee Bird
    Tossing It Out

    1. Hi Arlee!
      Haha! Taking it with a grain of sand is the best idea. I have a sneaky suspicion no one has actually ever counted either one ;-)
      Contrary to most, printing seems to slow me down - and it's also more legible when I do.
      I remember it in school as well. I so wanted to write as beautifully as I thought others did. Oh well ;-)
      Good to know so many do believe cursive should be part of every school curriculum!

  6. Hi Diedre - my writing is awful ... and I do type and then add notes; if I need to write notes up for me - then it's in longhand with a click- lead pencil ... I cannot write with a biro, or with an ink pen ... my notes are pretty legible - my handwriting less so.

    I definitely use cursive when I'm writing letters or cards ... it's not brilliant as I decided (in my wisdom!) to change my writing to try and copy a new friend's way of writing aged 12 or so - completely awful ever since.

    But your story line is extraordinary ... fun and informative to read - cheers Hilary

    1. Hi Hilary!
      I know what you mean, I have to type the grocery list if hubs does the shopping or sure enough he's calling to ask what the heck is the seventh item down. It's embarrassing, I rarely memorize a shopping list ;-)
      Thank you for stopping by, Hilary. It's always a pleasure ;-)

  7. Hehe, my husband always writes in cursive, whenever he writes anything by hand. My six-year-old daughter usually scrunches up her face when she tries to read it, though. I got a 3D doodle pen for Christmas, so I tested it out by writing the family names in cursive, so that all the letters were joined. My daughter tried to tell me I spelled my son's name wrong because his name has an "o" not an "a" in it. I had to explain that in cursive, "o" does actually have a tail on it. :)

    1. Hi Loni!
      Wow! A guy who always writes in cursive is quite extraordinary. I bet he's a secret genius ;-)
      My daughter did the same as yours. My grandson said he couldn't "read that language".
      How cute about the "o" with a tail! Sounds like the beginnings of children's poem or story.

  8. My husband writes in cursive. I can but tend not too. Not quite sure when I got out of the habit. Happy new year, Diedre.

    1. Hi Nicola!
      I think the habit has left a lot of us. I still think it's important to learn, if only for the purpose of style - and of course, signatures ;-)
      Happy new year to you, Nicola!

  9. My print is horrible. My husband tells me it's because I'm writing too fast to keep up with my thoughts. I think it's hilarious when people can't understand my writing and try to guess what I've written. And I totally think you should be a deal breaker and publish all your books with your name written in lowercase letters. Here's to us all being rebels this year:)

    1. Hi Quanie!
      They tell me the same thing. My reply is that the voices in my head all speak at once - not unlike the commotion at our holiday dinner tables ;-)
      Thanks for the vote of confidence, cheers to you as well!


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