I’ve always had beautiful handwriting. With minimal effort on my part, penmanship was the only subject for which I consistently received an A+. Learning the Rhinehart Handwriting Method in third grade felt to me like initiation into adulthood: I was writing cursive – clearly, I was grown up.
Since that time, I’ve hand-written countless invitations at the request of friends, “penned the place cards” for many events, and if there is ever a call for a designated scribe, I’m it. Clear, legible handwriting was just something I did; I never even thought about it.
During a recent Theatrical Intelligence Workshop a distant memory crept into my mind about winning a United Nations Essay Competition for high school students in New Hampshire. I had forgotten about this honor for 45 years and as I was pondering the reason why, it suddenly struck me: I was convinced that I’d won because of my handwriting. Every one of the judges commented about my beautiful writing*, yet it never occurred to me that they were referring to content, or style, or ideas in my essay. Of course I forgot the award – the reason (I thought) I had won it had no meaning to me.
If you had known me in high school you would have known I was obsessed with the theatre. Jeezum crow (as we used to say in New Hampshire) everyone in in my whole town knew I was going to be an actress – I had a reputation to uphold! At no time in my first seventeen years did it even cross my mind that I might do anything else. I discovered my passion early, and pursued it with a vengeance.
For twenty-five years that’s what I did; until I didn’t want to any more.
Readers of this blog are familiar with my belief that we all come into the world with Theatrical Intelligence and it often goes underground as we morph into grownups. Imagine my delight when my own theory provided insight into one of my own roles.
That role is writer. And the task is writing. Not handwriting.
*Truth be told, one out of the five judges did use the phrase “old fashioned penmanship”. That’s the only one I remembered, of course.