I Write For A Living, And I Have The Shittiest Handwriting You’ll Ever See, And I Don’t Care » VSB

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I Write For A Living, And I Have The Shittiest Handwriting You’ll Ever See, And I Don’t Care

Damon Young/VSB

 

Between 10am and 10pm on Wednesday, I…

…wrote 500 or so words on a rapper who calls himself “Slim Jesus”

…edited and published a piece about a guy who’s a lawyer and an aspiring rapper

…wrote up a ranking of types of pork

…wrote several hundred words about James Blake’s arrest

…wrote 700 or so words for EBONY about Serena Williams and Black Twitter

…and finished rewriting and editing my page (“The Colored Section”) for the November issue of EBONY Magazine.

This was a busy day for me, but it wasn’t unusually busy. When you write for a living, you write for a living. Which is what I tell the people who reach out to VSB or me personally to “pick my brain” on how to be a writer and/or build something like VSB. A conversation that, 80% of the time, goes the exact same way.

Hey, I really love what you all are doing there at VSB. I’ve always wanted to be a writer, too. How do I go about doing this?

Thanks for reaching out! And thanks for the compliments! So you want to write for a living? Do you have a blog or anything like that now?”

No.

Are you active on social media?

Not really.

When was the last time you actually wrote something?”

I wrote this email in 2009 that my coworkers said was really funny.

So you haven’t written anything in six years?

No.

Not even in a private journal or notebook?

No.

But you want me to teach you how to get people to pay you to write stuff?

Yes!

Anyway, although my Wednesday was busy, it wasn’t a particularly difficult day. Basically, it wasn’t Monday. Which was one of the most difficult days of my adult life.

What happened on Monday that made it so hard? Well, I had to write out a few dozen thank you cards. And that shit broke my brain. Because I have the worst handwriting of any functional adult you will ever meet. I know using “retarded” isn’t quite politically correct. But that’s the best way to describe my writing. My writing is full retard. And when you combine this with my terrible, awful, hilarious, ridiculous, and bizarre attempts at spelling words correctly without using spellcheck, you end up with a night where it takes me 15 attempts and 45 minutes to properly and legibly write “Thank you for coming! We definitely appreciated your gift — the knives are great! — and we’re thankful for your love and support!” on a card.

Let me put it this way: That image I used for this piece? That’s not some random picture from Google. That’s my actual handwriting. And that’s with an effort. 

This isn’t a new development, by the way. It’s not like I had decent handwriting that got worse because I don’t have to write things out much anymore. I’ve had notoriously shitty handwriting since grade school. It wasn’t uncommon for me to get straight A’s everywhere else and a C minus in handwriting. I’ve always sucked as this. Partially because I seem to have issues holding pencils. I grip them like I’m about to shank a rabbit. But mainly because I never really gave a fuck. If my answers were right and my English papers were on point, who gave a damn about the aesthetic quality of my C’s? I sure as hell didn’t. It just felt — and still feels — like a useless skill to acquire. And now, as actually writing things out becomes more and more obsolete, I don’t have much incentive to get better. So my levels of sucktitude just get progressively worse by the year.

Still, I feel like I should feel worse about this. I mean, I’m a writer who can’t actually perform the physical act of writing. Isn’t that…wrong? What would happen to me if group of randomly specific aliens invaded Earth to steal all of our keyboards? I would be useless. And I’d have to actually get a real job. Yikes!

But, until that day comes, I’ll continue writing for a living. And I’ll continue scribbling so badly on thank you cards that The Wife Person™ just says “Just stop. I’ll finish. Go…do some pushups or something.”

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Damon Young

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB. He is also a columnist for GQ.com And he's working on a book of essays to be published by Ecco (HarperCollins). Damon is busy. He lives in Pittsburgh, and he really likes pancakes. Reach him at damon@verysmartbrothas.com. Or don't. Whatever.

  • I have the same problem. It’s because I think much faster than I can spell and I need to get the thought out fast enough to keep it. It makes me rush every letter.

  • rhymeswithbrucelee

    LOL @ I grip them like I’m about to shank a rabbit

  • Detroit Skater

    my bad grades in handwriting were due to my writing being so small. very neat just small. in elementary i hated the exercise where the letters had to touch the top and bottom line. life got easier for me, not so much for my teachers, when i discovered college ruled paper. never really mastered writing in cursive. i do a combo of print and cursive.

    • cakes_and_pies

      Were you one of those kids who gripped the pen at the nib and wrote John Doe from Se7en?

      • Detroit Skater

        LOL…i’m gone plead the 5th and just sit back and read comments from this point on….. ;-)

        • cakes_and_pies

          That’s alright, when the teacher allowed a cheat sheet, you probably had 5 chapters written on 1 page.

          • Detroit Skater

            hahahaha! one of the beautiful advantages…

    • Val

      Lol That’s so cute. I had a friend in elementary school that used to write so small no one could read it. But it was cute becasue she was tiny too.

  • Wow. You give a doctor from 1983 (why 1983? Because I imagine they weren’t using computers to reproduce prescriptions) a run for her money in the handwriting department.

    I always did well in handwriting. My cursive was on point. These days, though, I do that hybrid print-cursive thing:

    • Agatha Guilluame

      That’s pretty. I like pretty handwriting.

    • miss t-lee

      I do too. I kinda mix it up…lol

      • AlwaysCC

        every few years i revamp my handwriting. at one point i wrote in all caps. right now i use small caps for certain letters and use that hybrid style…i get bored lol

        • miss t-lee

          I can dig it.

        • Do you find that sometimes you write better depending on what kind of pen you’re using? Like, for me, I feel like my writing looks worse if it’s a crap pen versus a nicer pen.

          • AlwaysCC

            i *always* have a nice pen with me lol i write with a pilot fountain pen. no one ever borrows (steals) them either! lol

            • I’m guilty of pen thievery.

          • miss t-lee

            The right pens make all the difference. I love those RSVP joints and the Pilot G2s.

            • TeeChantel

              The Pilot G2s are my fav.

              • miss t-lee

                You know.

                • TeeChantel

                  My job keeps them in the supply closet. I make sure I grab a stack every few months. They’re the only pens I write with.

                  • miss t-lee

                    Those are the only ones I order for the office.
                    I keep at 12 pk in my desk at all times because folks run off with them quickly.

                    • TeeChantel

                      Sneaky, too. Like I saw you take my pen, don’t think you’re gonna get away with it.

                    • miss t-lee

                      Yup. I’ll be like *ahem*

                    • TeeChantel

                      Listen, I sat my pen down somewhere and couldn’t remember where I had left it. One of the Branch Chiefs showed up at a meeting with my Pilot G2 and I gave him the side eye the entire time because I knew he knew that was my pen. lol

                    • miss t-lee

                      fisticuffs

                    • PhlyyPhree

                      I have this thing about only writing in purple ink. My mother gave me a box of violet bics in HS and unless there is ABSOLUTELY NO OTHER CHOICE, thats all I write in now. Everyone knows this. EVERYONE. I even special order a big box once a year to make sure that I never run out of pens at work or at home. One of my coworkers once thought it would be funny to steal the pen I was using, plus mybox of backups when I went to the bathroom and leave me a ransom note. When I tell you I. Tore. The. Office. UP?!?!?!?! I was accusing EVERYONE and I finally just sat down after five minutes and refused to do any work until I got them back.

                      Needless to say, they still laugh at me about that but they don’t take my damned pens anymore!

                    • mochazina

                      i ordered my professional seal in purple and sign all my plans in purple. i feel ya!

                    • Im a notorious pen thief, I got a cup of paperbacks with no caps n sh t

                    • TeeChantel

                      Um hm, I know your kind all too well.

                    • RewindingtonMaximus

                      Protect ya neck

                    • PhlyyPhree

                      You would have to die.

                    • RewindingtonMaximus

                      All my pens get stolen. Coworkers. Clients. Aint a f*ck given by these people.

                    • TeeChantel

                      None at all.

                  • My job used to have Liquid Magnus pens around. I scored a couple, but then the ink ran out months later. They haven’t been restocked in a long (long, long) while, so I went out and bought a pack of Pilot G2s.

                    • TeeChantel

                      Pilot G2s are the way to go. I feel uncomfortable using another pen. It just ain’t the same.

            • PhlyyPhree

              Ohhhh. I love the RSVP joints. Those are my fancy pens. For everything else, I just use a bic, but I vary which ones depending on where/what I’m writing

              • miss t-lee

                Them purple joints >>>

                • PhlyyPhree

                  We are here >><<<
                  You know wassup.

          • Definitely

          • RewindingtonMaximus

            i write better with markers than pens, and then I just suck period with chalk.

            • TeeChantel

              Same. I actually write better on a dry erase board w/ the dry erase markers.

              • RewindingtonMaximus

                We should have a penmanship battle up in here.

                • TeeChantel

                  On what? Pen and paper? Chalkboard? I already lost. My handwriting sucks. But I’ll run circles around you on a dry erase board.

                  • RewindingtonMaximus

                    I’ll let you do the dry erase board just to get the win by default.

                    • TeeChantel

                      Aw, shucks. Why thank ya.
                      Your handwriting can’t be that bad.

                    • RewindingtonMaximus

                      It probably isn’t, I just have an idea of how good it should look, and it never touches that.

            • h.h.h.
              • miss t-lee

                Hmmm. I’m intrigued.

              • TeeChantel

                I like the second and third pen. The third especially because of its thickness and it is easier to grip.
                no pun intended.

                • Val

                  That’s what she said…..

                  • TeeChantel

                    Haha, Val. That was the only way I could explain it :-)

                • brothaskeeper

                  What you did there…….I saw it.

                  • TeeChantel

                    :-)

              • RewindingtonMaximus

                You are a nerd amongst nerds good sir. I have a lot to learn.

              • mochazina

                i only like those to sign/seal plans. otherwise i feel like i’m overcompensating. everyday life don’t need that level of “permanent” inkage.

          • Lea Thrace

            Ultra fine ball points only for me. My admin knows exactly which pens I tolerate and which ones she might lose her job over if I find in my office.

            • Sigma_Since 93

              I buy boxes of pilot bp-s fines in black in bulk.

          • PhlyyPhree

            I haven’t really noticed that. I know that I ENJOY writing more with a better pen. But I make it a point to mix it up because I love to physically write because I love my handwriting.

          • mochazina

            totally. my *at hand* pen collection must have both gel and smooooooove ball point to allow for all circumstances. and i do have a larger pen collection to trade out from… COLORS!!!

      • I go with the letter that looks better like fuck them number 2 a** Q’s

        • miss t-lee

          them cursive Q’s were always a hotazzmess. I still print them…lol

        • Those Qs still don’t make no sense to me. How, Sway?!

      • Oooh! I like your handwriting (but your example killed me dead!).

        • miss t-lee

          Hadn’t used my nickname in a while…lol

      • AlwaysCC

        lol i had to refresh to see the picture. iDied

        • miss t-lee

          *herman cain smile*

      • Fine, I’ll play too

        • miss t-lee

          Nice.

        • TeeChantel

          I’ve seen a lot of dudes with this handwriting. Pretty nice.

        • Sigma_Since 93

          Work won’t let me play along!

        • Nice t and a’s.

          • Sigma_Since 93

            I see what you did there………….

          • You too.

      • Lea Thrace

        i love yours!

        • miss t-lee

          Thank you. :)

    • Damon Young

      My response to you all

      • miss t-lee

        is this toilet paper?

        • Damon Young

          maybe

          • miss t-lee

            That’s a yes…lol

        • TeeChantel

          I’ll guess and say Mardi Gras paper napkins. I get these all the time.

          • miss t-lee

            Good guess.

          • Who writes on napkins and it’s not a 555 number

            • TeeChantel

              Champ?

            • IsitFridayyet?

              I believe JK Rowling started Harry Potter on a napkin.

      • But lookit! You worked to make your writing legible here, so… lol

      • Lea Thrace

        did my kindergarten aged nephew write this?

        Maybe…

        • My penmanship is much worse than Champ’s. I write like a PCP addict with broken fingers.

          • PhlyyPhree

            So basically, you don’t write?
            OH. Ok.

            • There are marks.

              • PhlyyPhree

                But do the marks make words, which can be read and understood by anyone, other than and also possibly including, you?

                • Words are formed. They kind of come out a cohesive thoughts. Like Future’s rhyme book.

      • lol how long did it take you to write this tho?

      • uNk

        Props on the sneak diss if you wrote this on toilet paper lol

      • cakes_and_pies

        Your handwriting looks like it needs Zoloft.

        • FILTHIER

          I tell my daughter she writes like maniac and I feel like I’m always reading a manifesto.

      • h.h.h.

        this was Champ writing this:

        http://cdn.meme.am/images/6713956.jpg

    • Val

      Me too.

  • Champ is a machine… I be at WordPress like

    • I struggle to remember my own URL.

      • Val

        Well when you remember it let us know so we can check out your blog.

        • It’s nothing but tumbleweeds and a family of raccoon living there now.

          • Val

            Okay. And please don’t eve mention racoons again. They are a scourge upon the earth.

            • h.h.h.

              #AllMammalsMatter

      • miss t-lee

        gotta come back to the writing game, Wu.

        • I’ve got to find my give a d*mn. I seemed to have misplaced it some time ago.

          • Val

            Try tumblr. There’s not as much pressure because you can re-blog other people’s stuff and write only when the feeling hits you.

          • miss t-lee

            I can completely understand. You already know.

  • I sympathize. My handwriting is trash. It looks something akin to gang signs.

  • IsitFridayyet?

    My handwriting changes based on my mood and what I am writing. When I am sure about what I am writing it is more legible than when I am writing down my thoughts. The only thing that seems to trip people up about my handwriting is how I write my a’s. (They look like a typed “a”)

  • But PLEASE tell me you’re NOT left handed because people already assume we can’t write legibly. We don’t need you to be proving points lol

  • RewindingtonMaximus

    I write like I lost my hand to a samurai in a duel, had it resurrected by a voodoo priestess, and now I”m just part zombie. It’s horrible.

  • PunchDrunkLove

    Lemme tell you, I have the worst handwriting. Chicken.Scratch. Because of the nature of my job and going a million miles a minute, oh and CYA, since 2004 I have recorded everything in a note pad/composition book (as you can image I have stackes of them). You would not believe when I go back to track something, sometimes I can’t tell what I wrote. LOLOLOL

    My mom had the best handwriting. It was sexy and eloquent. Even signing stuff after she’d aged, she still had it.

    • TeeChantel

      Awww that is sweet. So, wait, ya’ll aren’t together anymore?

      • PunchDrunkLove

        Nah, I broke things off…. It wasn’t easy though, trrrust me on that.

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