Handwriting

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I got a letter in the mail from a friend back in the States. This may possibly be the first personal letter I’ve received in decades. Business correspondence not included, of course. My friend is a Luddite – she has no internet at home, no smartphone and no email address. Anytime she absolutely needs the internet, she visits the local library. I cannot imagine living this way! However, if I’m going to be a good friend and keep in touch, I must respond with a physical letter of my own. And this I did today.

In an interesting little twist, I realized that despite being able to type up a letter to send, I have no way of printing it. I’ve come to depend so much on digital everything, that I don’t even keep hard copies of my own documents. Honestly, if the cloud ever goes down I am positively doomed. But really, I hate collecting paper. I was therefore, compelled to write by hand this letter to my friend.

How often do we actually use handwriting anymore? Besides our signatures, there are few opportunities to ‘write’ at length. My GP and dentist all use electronic forms. Nevertheless, I still hand write often. And strangely, I like my own handwriting. I have kept notebooks for all my writing projects and I nearly wrote the entire first draft of my first book in a series of notebooks. Some things are just better with pen and ink. I wonder though, if the following generations will use handwriting at all. And if they do, if it will be a form of block printing? I hear they’ve stopped teaching cursive handwriting in schools. And if that’s the case, will future generations no longer be able to decipher a document written in cursive?

It makes me a little nostalgic – writing by hand. I think of all the beautiful lines of poetry, the masterful works of fiction, the powerful speeches and philosophical treatises written by hand before being set to type for printing. I hope that somehow this fading skill will not be thrown in the dustbin of history. At least not in my lifetime!

 

I’m lying (or is it laying?)

I haven’t thought about the difference between lie, lay, laid, lain since high school English class, but in writing a bit of story the other day I used ‘lay’ [correctly it turns out], but it didn’t sound right. So to be sure, I did a search and found a brilliant, brief explanation from Encyclopaedia Brittanica. I’ll paraphrase but all credit to them …

First of all, when I say ‘lie’ I mean lie as in ‘lie down’ not tell a falsehood. 

Simply put, use ‘lie’ when it is an action with no object. It’s something you do yourself, in other words. For example:

“I always lie down after lunch for a nap.”

“She lies down to reach beneath the sofa.”

“They lie down together to mediate.”

On the other hand, use ‘lay’ when you take action in regards to an object. For example:

“Put down the book and lay it on the table before answering the door.”

All the above examples are in the present tense, but some confusion arises when we consider the past tense. Why? Because ‘lay’ is the past tense of ‘lie’! For example:

“After lunch, I lay down for a nap.”

But ‘laid’ is the past tense of ‘lay’, so …

“She laid the book on the table before answering the door.”

So what about ‘lain’? That is the past participle tense of lie. You would use it this way:

“I had lain on the sofa much longer than I intended.”

The past participle of lay is still ‘laid’ so it would be used this way:

“She had laid the book on the table before answering the door.”

And just to finish things off, the present participle tense of ‘lie’ is ‘lying’ and for ‘lay’ it is ‘laying’. They would each be used this way:

“I am lying down for a nap after lunch.”

“She is laying the book on the table before she answers the door.”

I hope this was helpful! Happy writing and productive editing! I’m going to lie down now….

Robert Graves – Sketch (3) 2020

The poet/author Robert Graves has been featured here previously. I wrote about his experiences during the Great War and his inclusion in the memorial to the War Poets in Westminster Abbey. As well as being a fascinating character and a wonderful writer, he also has an excellent face: strong chin, full mouth, penetrating gaze, good bones… and so this week I chose to draw the young poet: Robert Graves.

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And the photo I used for reference:

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