It is one of my greatest concerns that, with the ubiquity of tech, I now have the handwriting ability of Edward Scissorhands. I found myself composing a note to my neighbours recently, and it took three attempts to make it legible. I used to carry a Moleskin around with me, as all good writers should. Now, I just have my phone. This can be uncomfortable when it looks like I am rudely texting while someone is talking; I am in fact making notes.
As a child, I was such an obnoxious show-off that I recall attempting cursive – joined-up writing – while my classmates were practising print letters. Unfortunately, I made the mistake of joining up not only the letters, but the words too, so an entire four-page story resembled the rolling waves of the sea. The shame is still with me.
Over time, my handwriting changed from a tween style that looked like blown bubblegum to intensely scribbled, squished missives. My lowercase T transformed into a crucifix and my ampersands were a blase loop. My love of writing was connected with the act of physically marking things. I wrote everywhere: on the backs of fag packets, inside cereal boxes, the margins of newspapers, my skin. The most enjoyable aspect of writing? (Apart from, perhaps, writing something good?) Writing with the perfect pen. I don’t mean a £350 Mont Blanc, because if you are writing with a £350 pen I will assume you are a banker and responsible for the financial crisis. I am talking about the mighty Uni-ball Eye. This is one of the world’s most ubiquitous pens, adored for its cushioned grip and rollerball that glides across paper.
Many people swear by the perfect fountain pen, and I admit to liking its quill-esque nature, but I was scarred early on by having repeated leaks in school bags. (Also by having to wash my hand to a Lady Macbeth degree after using.)
I’m sure it isn’t true that words are better when inked, and whenever I hear of authors insisting on writing manuscripts by hand, I stifle an eye-roll. But it’s a bit like when I change the typeface on Google Docs: one minute I’ve written something banal, then suddenly, after switching from Arial to Georgia, I am a genius. I don’t miss the wristache, but I do miss the scratch and scrape of a loyal friend, like an outfit that guarantees a good time. My kink is ink.