It’s far easier to learn to read than it is to write. I remember the first word I read on my own before anyone tried to teach me to read. It was the word ‘STOP’ off a traffic sign. The second one was ‘pharmacy’ through the car window. Suprisingly, my parents didn’t take that as an early manifestation of a sense of precaution, one which would never truly come to live in me.
I still remember how I felt when I read those signs. But I don’t remember learning to read. I didn’t wake up one day and said to myself, yesterday I didn’t know how to read, today I do. It just happened.
Writing, on the other hand, was a toilsome operation. If I can’t remember learning to read, I certainly remember learning to write, the endless hours of elementary-school calligraphy, the silky track of cursive script on the heavily-ruled practice page, the exhausted fountain pen findings its feet under the Mordoresque eye of the schoolteacher.
I learned to write in a cursive, ornate hand before I knew how to do a typographic a and b like most of us write today. The ornate hand is now gone and what is left is a hobbling penmanship dragging, instead of having found, its feet across the page.