Take time to write well

Published 3:15 pm Tuesday, January 6, 2009

From the time I got my first shot at Dr. Killilea’s office in Natchez, Miss. — when he broke the needle off the syringe and let me take it home to play with — I wanted to be a doctor.

I was mesmerized by that syringe and pretended to give every stuffed animal and pet we had an injection.

Despite spending several years as a pre-med student, medicine just wasn’t my calling. I’m suited perfectly for the newspaper business, and I’m one of the lucky ones who found that out before putting myself in the position of potentially killing some innocent patient.

However, my terrible handwriting would have been right at home in the world of medicine. I could have scribbled out a prescription as illegible as any ever written.

We received a handwritten letter from Mary Ann Woodruff of Shelby County this week, which rightly challenged us on the job we did in editing some content in a recent issue of the Reporter.

In a postscript to her letter, Ms. Woodruff asks us to excuse her handwriting, saying she is approaching her 71st birthday and is dealing with the challenges of cataracts and arthritis.

The thing is, Ms. Woodruff’s handwriting is simply beautiful — so elegant and clean. Reading her letter made me immediately embarrassed about my own handwriting, and when I send her a note about her letter, I’m going to make certain it’s typewritten.

Apparently, Ms. Woodruff was raised during a time when handwriting was an art form, and it’s a shame many of us don’t take pride in that any longer. My mother, who celebrated her 72nd birthday in November 2008, likewise takes great pride in her handwriting.

Handwriting is almost a thing of the past. Proper grammar, punctuation and spelling are following closely behind. Those things seem unimportant to young people, who do most of their writing in the world of text messaging.

Progress is a wonderful thing. Too bad we lose so much in translation.