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Writing Woes
by Vijai Pant

No, no, you’ve got the title wrong. Nothing to do with good writing skills, but everything to do with rounding the ‘g’, dotting the ‘i’, striking the ‘t’- yes, a legible, beautiful, impressive handwriting. Oh God! I can give my right hand away (even though I’m not a leftie) to acquire, what in school parlance is called, ‘a beautiful cursive hand’.

All of us, who are into this writing business, but do not fall into the writers' category, as there is not much to show in the form of published material, can never get tired of expressing our gratitude, over and over again, to the cumbersome typewriters of yore, and the sleek computers of today with the neat typescript conveniently hiding our terrible hand. But there is a catch. If we scribble our thoughts on paper and leave it at that for long, we discover that the scribbled thoughts on paper too have an expiry date.

Many-a-times it has happened that I have peered closely at a sentence on the draft some days later after the ideas had got crystallized and had found myself unsuccessfully trying to make sense of what at the time of formation was an appealing sentence. The tantalizingly unclear words suddenly make the keyboard go silent for a good minute or so. The mystery of the sentence only gets resolved by substituting it with another, and, probably, an inferior one, if we happen to believe the adage, ‘first thoughts are best’.

But I wonder why most organizations still insist on handwritten applications for job seekers. Do they want to expose our clan- ‘the masters of the spidery scrawl’- though the reason can well be that handwriting tells about one’s personality?  

However, there might not be much to tell by way of the writer’s personality- that lost soul whose mind keeps on drifting to the complexities of his/her next plot. However, with an abundance of ideas filling the head, it is increasingly being felt that a paper-pen combo is indispensable for the writer. Who knows when inspiration may strike? The fertile imagination must find its way promptly on paper and, for the illegible ones, equally promptly on the keys.

At the same time, as I look back, I also derive a lot of satisfaction from the encouraging fact that most of my language teachers had impeccable English, but atrocious writing. Enough reason to delude myself into believing that their legacy is just being carried forward by me.

Now let me assure all those who suffer from ‘writing woes’ that, like every cloud has a silver lining, there’s a brighter side to this 'handicap', if one is inclined to call it so. The advantage is that our employers will never task us with any extra work, which needs a good artistic hand.

The tedious filling up of parents’ names and addresses of the students of my class (of which I’m the class teacher) in the invites for the coming Sports Day at school has again been given to that colleague of mine with a fantastic hand, while I continue to save my time and energy to establish myself as a writer.