Handwriting was such an important part of our curricula during the early days of our childhood that a student with good handwriting was bound to be in the good-books of all teachers. But in the contemporary times, the fact cannot be ignored that handwritten text is gradually going out of use as the keyboard takes centre space in our writing (read typing) process. Since ancient times writing and chronicling have been more than just putting words on a sheet of paper. It has always been a well-developed art, which needed the right balance of everything involved with writing, including the paper.
Pen and paper, once thought to be the lifeblood of most writers, novelists and poets, have now lost their once sacred place. The Macbook, coupled with several writing softwares, has already conquered the minds of most Western writers. Back home in India too, most writers have already migrated to technology and few, if at all any, actually write their manuscripts on paper. The reasons are obvious: most of the publishing houses no longer accept handwritten manuscripts as they would need to type the entire manuscript or hire somebody to do so, both of which makes the process lengthier. Even so, in the latter case, the writer would actually need to sit with her/his typist during the entire process. Why not just type it down in the first place!
Consider acclaimed Indian novelist, Shashi Tharoor, who moved to the computer very early and bought one of the first personal computers way back in 1981. Even The Great India Novel — published in 1989 — was actually written entirely on the computer in 1987-88. Tharoor considers himself lucky, saying, "As my handwriting is so difficult to decipher, if I handwrote a novel and gave it to a secretary to type, I would have to spend so much time correcting her mistakes because inevitably, she would not get it right." Another factor is related to the nature of his work. "I try and finish articles in one go but when I am writing longer pieces, such as working on fiction, inevitably, at some point or the other, I am interrupted. When I return, I re-read what I have written, I correct it with a fresh and clear mind and then continue. That is actually something very easy to do on a computer," he said. But then there are disadvantages too, he added, heaving a sigh. Writing and editing on a computer leaves very few or no original drafts and many writers regret that their previous drafts were way better then the final ones but were no longer available. Fortunately, this has not been the case with the writer of The Great India Novel. "If you’re really one of those people, who like to see authors’ manuscripts, their papers and manuscripts collection, which is very popular in the libraries in the West, then of course it won’t happen because there is very little to see out of a computer generated manuscript in comparison with a handwritten text, which is more full of romance and sentiment and emotional value," he regrets.
On the other hand, noted Indian poet and Sahitya Akademi award winner, Jeet Thayil says, "I write directly on the laptop for prose and fiction but for poetry I usually use pen and paper. I think sometimes for long sentences in prose, because you have to think of the entire sentence before you write it, it comes out way better when you are writing it by hand. When you are writing on the laptop, you just write because you know you can always edit it. I think you’re less careful when you’re writing on the laptop."
It is this fading art of writing on the paper that a recent launch sought to rekindle. Aiming to revitalize the art of writing, journaling and chronicling, Chambers of Ink has introduced world-renowned Hartley and Marks’ quality range of notebooks, diaries and journals to India. Under the partnership, Hartley and Marks will offer its range of "PaperBlanks" and "Paper-Oh" products to Indian customers. Sukriti Jiwarajka, Founder and CEO, Chambers of Inks and José Andrada, Head, Hartley and Marks, India, were present during the launch at The Lodi — The Garden Restaurant in the Capital. The programme was also attended by renowned Kathak dancer Shovana Narayan and Anjum Chopra, former Captain, Indian Women Cricket Team.
Sukriti Jiwarajka said, "There is therapy in putting pen to paper. Blank pages, just waiting to be filled are one of the most beautiful things in this world. It’s like your story is waiting to be written. Chambers of Ink aims to inspire people to write again. We are extremely glad to introduce PaperBlanks and Paper-Oh to the Indian market. Chambers of Ink is a platform that brings together brands that do some really incredible, meaningful stationery." Jose Andrada further elaborated, "Coming to the Indian market was a much awaited step and we are very happy to begin our association with a country, which has such rich history and interesting stories to document, chronicle and share. Even though India is the youngest country, the people here have a deep sense of respect for their past. While they are modern and futuristic in their approach, they respect their history."
The perfectly curated diaries and journals on offer will inspire one to return to the wonderful world of hand written text but the product may bring a greater shock on the wallet. A click on the keyboard, after all, is an easier option than a punch on the wallet.