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Keep the beautiful pen busy.

Brooklyn, NY

Handwritten is a place and space for pen and paper. We showcase things in handwriting, but also on handwriting. And so, you'll see dated letters and distant postcards alongside recent studies and typed stories. 

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The Handwritten Holidays

Brett Rawson


In Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott states that Monday is the worst day to write, and that December is a month of Mondays. While it is about the external elements (the shortened days, raging rivers of street slush, broken radiators, etc), the struggle takes place indoors, or, inside the mind. Emily Dickinson used to refer to these nights as "evenings of the brain."  

This year, we were prepared. We purchased a sunset lamp, a crock pot, and, hiding throughout the apartment, we've stashed unopened bottles of Two Buck Chuck. #grapesofwrath

Speaking of books, that is really how we get through December, and the rest of the winter months. With a little bit of time away from work, we'll soon be retreating to the woods with a stack of books, blank journals, envelopes, and stamps. We thought to share with you some of the things we'll be bringing with us. First are a few titles that have little to do with "handwriting" per se, but speak directly to us as hand-writers, for they address the thin lines between great divides:

For those of you who want to jump into the deep-end of the handwriting pool, these are some great diving boards. Two notes: first, we highly encourage you to pair together Brencher's memoir with her letter writing stationery kit, as we heart everything she does; and second, The Assassin's Cloak anthology is particularly wild because it's organized by date, and so for a big chunk of our last year, we would read the entries from each day in the morning to get us going. February 6th was particularly enlightening, as there were entries from 1769, 1881, 1922 and 1941. 

If you're looking for a gift, we recommend the below art objects. Inspiration is guaranteed. Whenever we feel a little bit of pressure mounting, we crack open these covers, get lost in their letters, and a few daydreams later, we're back to the page. 

Lastly, if you're looking for something to write in, here are three ideas to get you, or someone you know, writing: 

The medium-sized hardcover notebooks from Leuchtturm are a new favorite of ours — and not just because their cheerful, mod two-tone covers (“biColore”) are an antidote to the winter grays. With numbered pages, a table of contents, and supplemental stickers for archiving and organizing, you feel like you’re writing a real book as you scribble towards the 249th page finish line — which is some 100 pages longer than most similar style journals. There’s a gusseted pocket for stowing paper ephemera, and an elastic band to keep your words tucked in at night. 

The Shinola Detroit notebooks are manufactured by Edwards Brothers Malloy — a family-run printing business that has made books and journals since 1893, and which employs more than 900 people in Ann Arbor, Michigan. As their mission statement goes, Shinola respect the evolving nature and power of the handwritten word, and aim to "uphold the art of putting pen to pad and preserving communication.” The Smyth sewn binding method used not only allows your notebook to lie flat when open, but it increases its life expectancy and durability. They come in a bunch of different sizes, colors, and material groups — the linen options being the best to cuddle up to. 

But if completion is important to you, then check out the sketchbooks from our partner in the pen, The Sketchbook Project. You have one year to complete this blank little book. Though, time is running out, so click your way into a great activity by checking out their offerings on their site.

Lastly, Happy Holidays, everyone. Stay safe, keep the beautiful pen busy, and be in touch.

No Writer Should Live in Fear • Justin Sherwood

Brett Rawson

The instagram does not exist. In it, a patch of white-gray sidewalk frames a loose circle of dead leaves. In the top left corner, the curb of the road. At the center, yellow graffiti. The graffiti is a crooked arrow pointing into open space, and next to it the words FAG PARKING. You can tell from the way that FAG is scrawled the graffiti first marked something else, that when the text was painted it wasn’t graffiti at all. There are other signs nearby: a pink flag, some white tubing. But there it is, revised: FAG PARKING.


No writer should live in fear

A photo posted by Justin Sherwood (@justin.sherwood) on


I came across the parking space on a run. On shorter runs, anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour, I perform the same loop. I run from my apartment on Ditmars Boulevard to the northernmost avenue in Astoria, then west to Astoria Park, around the park, back to the avenue, and home. I’ve run the avenue hundreds of times. And then this drab, fall day, as I near the top of the hill that marks its middle, I find the inscription. I must have been sensitive that day. The sky was clear and pale, the wind was calm; I’m full of pride, I’m well adjusted. And yet. FAG PARKING. I feel that hot and unmistakable pang: shame.

And then I think, let this be funny. I’ll capture the image and say, “If you’ve ever tried to find parking in Astoria, you know how considerate this is.” The day passes and I go for another run. As I crest the hill, I keep my eyes peeled for the graffiti. I must have missed it—I’ve passed the place I know it to be. I’m nearly in the park and there’s no sign. I make a small circle, run back up the hill, nothing.  I stop at the top to catch my breath. Another sideways glance, then down. 


Justin Sherwood's poems and essays have appeared in Women's Studies Quarterly (WSQ), New Criticals, H_NGM_N, and The Poetry Project Newsletter, among other places. He's also a contributor to Scout: Poetry in Review. He teaches at The New School, where he received his MFA in Creative Writing. Find him on Twitter @JustinSherwood

I Wanted to Build a Universe • Tonianne Bellomo

Brett Rawson

What happens when it's not just you, the writer, who struggles with the screen, but your characters? In this lyric essay, Tonianne Bellomo walks us through the negotiations she makes with her characters. What does she do to bring them to life? She builds them paper homes. 

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