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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
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?"


"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?"


"Not even in a private journal or notebook?"


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


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."

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB, a contributing opinion writer for The New York Times, and the author of What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Blacker (Ecco/HarperCollins)

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I have great print-like handwriting, but cursive? Does anyone under 30 write in cursive anymore? I gave up on cursive when I realized I could sign my name with a cursive like flourish and not get fined. But I had to try recently and I'd forgotten how certain letters connect and it looked like a fifth grader. SMH