Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Penmanship - Karen Bush



At least I'm in good company ...
The big moment finally arrives … "Sign it? No problem!" Smiling rather smugly I pick up my pen, open my book at the flyleaf and then pause: is a ballpoint pen really the thing? Should it be fountain pen? No, that takes ages to dry and smudges easily … compromise is reached with a rollerball.
Properly equipped, I pause yet again, pen tip hovering uncertainly above the paper. What to write? Best wishes is a bit formal and love from is too familiar. Some witty epithet perhaps? Mind goes blank: chewing on end of pen doesn’t help. Maybe just a signature then? Hmmm. 
And then, finally, the pen descends …
I look at what I’ve just written. It looks awful. All those hours spent practising writing my name, covering whole pages during moments of boredom in school lessons (and don’t tell me you didn’t do it too), in preparation for just this moment and yet it still looks horrible. Other people have beautiful handwriting, and their inscriptions are a positive adornment to the front pages of books. Penny Dolan did a beautiful one on a copy of her brilliant book A Boy Called Mouse – both the sentiment and the appearance – for my godson recently. When I sign a book, it feels like I’ve defaced it:  mutilation rather than added attraction. 
I wonder whether Penny might consider signing my books on my behalf …


A pawprint on a flyleaf is never out of place.
First find and wake your wippitt ...


11 comments:

Dennis Hamley said...

How true, Karen. I'm appalled at the illegible mess I've left in so many books people have just paid good money for. God knows I try each time, but the trail of carnage always seem to start again after the first two words.

Jan Needle said...

Try signing them William Shakespeare. At least it'll give them added resale value. Sorted!

Wendy Jones said...

I am sure this will resonate with everyone who has ever signed a book. It's a quandary. I wrote very best wishes until I realised that it took ages and held the queue up. Also a four year old could copy my signature. Could I borrow a wippitt

Bill Kirton said...

I find I write so infrequently with a pen nowadays that I just can't do it. Notes to oneself are OK but anything for public or even private consumption is an embarrassment. I share your angst, Karen.

JO said...

I always feel a bit of a twit, signing books. But I now write: Enjoy! Then my name, that gets round the best wishes or love from dilemma.

Penny Dolan said...

Thanks for the kind words about my signature, Karen, but I must point out that I was able to sign that copy at a calm & leisurely pace. My handwriting for myself is pure scrawl.
The trick, if you are writing more than just your name, is to be alert to the layout of that particular title page so that you pause and start your message (ie place your pen) where you'll have enough room to fit in the words. Not all title pages are set out the same way, and if you're offered a couple of different layouts to sign one after another (yes, you're having a lucky day!)it's easy to start too centre page - especially when you are meant to be smiling and chatting amiably at the same time. Of course, you'll all know that and - as an AE author - you may well have designed your title page too.

Reb MacRath said...

I'd be so happy if anyone asked me to sign anything, I doubt I'd think twice about my penmanship. But, actually, years ago I created an elaborate 2-letter monogram for one of my other pen names. Nothing yet for Reb MacRath...but I'm still keeping the faith.

Ann Turnbull said...

I thought it was just me. Thanks, Karen - and everyone.

Nick Green said...

It looks like one of those 'Please prove you're not a robot' things.

Katherine Roberts said...

I once signed a girl's book during a school visit. She frowned at my carefully-signed name (well, you could at least read it) and said "No, I want a REAL signature!" She wasn't happy until I'd scribbled something that resembled a miniature Gordian Knot rather than my name.

Another time, a boy asked me to sign his favourite Philip Pullman book (I'm still not sure if he wanted a REAL Philip Pullman signature?). And then there was my visit to a school in Belfast, where half the class wanted me to sign their Bibles... I got into trouble with their teacher for that!

Finally, if you suffer from long signing queues... at a conference years ago, I was sitting next to a Famous Male Children's Author who had a special stamp and ink pad. He managed to 'sign' about ten books to my one. So you know what to do, Karen... make a cast of your paw, grab some coloured ink/mud, and stamp away!

Umberto Tosi said...

Yup! That's me too! :)