Posted by: penpatience | August 1, 2017


WRITERS WORDS: “Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.” –Benjamin Franklin

Note:Cemetery Plot,” my fiction short story, has recently been published in The Storyteller Anthology Magazine, September,2016 Quarterly Edition-a delayed printing. Available through www.thestorytelleranthologymagazine or





I watched an old movie recently titled, “Iris,” starring Judi Dench and Kate Winslet. Kate Winslet portrayed a youthful Iris while Judi Dench represented Iris’s elder years. Iris was a twentieth century novel writer. Many scenes depicted Iris sitting at her desk writing with a fountain pen on an unlined pad. Movie goers could view the beautiful penmanship of the penned words when the camera panned in over Iris’s shoulder. In the background, Iris’s husband sat in an adjacent small office two-finger typing her notes and pages on a Remington manual typewriter. Fast forward to the twenty-first century passing by electric typewriters, fax machines, land line telephone systems and early IBM computers to present day technology. Today, most people utilize various technological communications using an alpha-numeric keyboard on cell phones, I-pads and laptop computers, etc. Pens, pencils, of course, are still utilized, but I mused how many folks actually write (not print) with these age-old and still abundant tools. What happened to good Penmanship?

Penmanship is a technique of writing with the hand using a writing instrument. Today, this is most commonly done with a pen, or pencil, but throughout history has included many different implements (…..) an individual’s style of penmanship is referred to as “handwriting.”(Wikipedia-7-7-2017) Cursive writing (also known as script or longhand), is any style of penmanship in which some characters are written joined together in a flowing manner, generally for the purpose of making writing faster.  Formal cursive is generally joined, but casual cursive is a combination of joins and pen lifts. The writing style can be further divided as “looped,”  “italic”, or “connected.” (Wikipedia-7-7-2017)

Students of my generation learned to write and print in lower and upper case letters in grade school.  Writing skills were learned through repetitive practice through middle school and graded along with other studies. Claire Suddath wrote in the August 3, 2009 issue of Time Magazine: “Don’t blame computers for bad handwriting.  A shift in educational priorities has left an entire generation of Americans with embarrassing bad penmanship.”  Unfortunately, I can relate to Claire Suddath’s comments.

Many times during my business career numerous applicant resumes landed on my desk. Most were well typed, articulate, and sometimes written with the assistance of recruitment consultants—a best foot forward! However, a completed company Application of Employment told me more about an applicant than the pristine resume. Many times I encountered spelling errors, “See Resume” shortcuts sloppily half-written, half-printed across an indicated area, some words were illegible, sentence structure, where required, was shortened, scrawled or again, “see resume for details.” Although there were many well-written applications, too often the writing reminded me of hurried hen-scratch—a guessing game to decipher a “g” from a “q,” an “o” from an “a,” etc.

Consider: “The recent established Common Core State Standards, the standardized educational benchmarks for U.S. public schools, omit cursive as a requirement. Some states, including Indiana and Hawaii, had dropped cursive from their curricula in favor of keyboard proficiency as early as 2011.” (CBS News-“Is Cursive Writing Dead”-7-7-2017)

I believe good penmanship/cursive writing is still needed in everyday life. Legal documents, various business professions demand and expect writing proficiencies. Additionally, I note that hard copy greeting cards still exist along with online salutations. I prefer receiving hand-written Valentine, Mother’s Day, Happy Birthday cards in lieu of text messages, e-mail pop-ups, Facebook or other social media acknowledgments.  Cherished to this day is one of the last birthday cards I received from my mother before her death: Love, Mom—written in her lovely handwriting.

P.S. Written on the pad in my handwriting in the above photo: “Now is the time for all good writers to come to the aid of good Penmanship.”   Gaye Buzzo Dunn

Dear Readers and Writers: It’s summertime! Be Safe!



  1. Loved your Power of the Pen piece, Frances. As always, very thoughtful and timely. I totally agree that we should handwrite more often?


  2. I agree, today’s kids don’t get the practice, and their penmanship is atrocious in turn. I think my kids spent all of two or three class periods on cursive writing. I remember spending a lot more time practicing letters on that lined paper. Then again, my handwriting isn’t the neatest either. Maybe it’s time I practice a bit. Thanks, Frances!


  3. Thank you for the response, Julie. Hopefully, the educational systems will reconsider the value of good penmanship. Best wishes. Frances


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