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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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Filtering by Tag: journals

Notes from My Soul in the Morning • Kate Hoyle

Brett Rawson



Kate Hoyle is a poet and visual artist from Moraga, California. Her work has been published in Tupelo Press 30/30 Project, The AUDACITY and Smokelong Quarterly. Her five poem series, On America, is currently touring the US and South America on exhibit in U2’s Joshua Tree World Tour. You can see more of her work at katehoyle.com

"OUT LOUD" is Back at Flatiron Plaza (7/28)

Brett Rawson


On June 30th, Handwritten held OUT LOUD, an afternoon of bearing witness through writing, for the first time. We set up a microphone in one of the most iconic, and busiest, intersections in New York City and began reading from letters, journals, and deep storage. We're happy to be invited back by the Flatiron/23rd Street Partnership's Summer Series and, in partnership with Pen + Brush Gallery, bring the private once against into the public. Details are:

Public Plaza
Broadway, 5th Avenuve, And 23rd St
12-2pm, Thursday, July 28, 2016

"OUT LOUD" is about bringing our private lives to the public. It is about smudging the borders between ourselves and others that keep us from sharing who we are and learning more about those around us. We invite people to share those thoughts formerly kept to themselves, whether written in diaries or letters, in the open. Because, to adjust an Adrienne Rich quote, when one person tells the truth, it creates the possibility for more truth around them.

In a city of 8.5 million of people, it's easy to feel anonymous, alone, and apart. Authentic intimacy can seem difficult to come by. We find that writing down our thoughts and reflections whether in journal entries or letters to friends and family is a helpful way to process what it is to be alive today. At "Out Loud," we want you to share these confessions, meditations, and reflections with the larger public. 

You can read excerpts of things you've written or things someone else has written to you. And for those of you who can't make the event or want to partake but not speak, you can still participate: send us your excerpt and allow it to be read by those in the audience, or our roster of performers.

Email us at info@handwrittenwork.com to let us know how you'd like to partake.

The Busy Land of Human Beings • A Young Man in 1974

Brett Rawson


This journal excerpt comes from the online exhibition, "Out Loud." To see the full exhibit, click here.

They Are Folded Into Gatherings • Rags Edwards

Brett Rawson

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Papers are selected, painted and torn down.  Then they are folded into gatherings for pages.

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Harmonious hand-painted materials are selected for applying to the cover boards, inside and out.

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Bees wax for the sewing thread, leather straps cut and a hand drawn binding map for guidance.

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A luscious bloom of watercolor to illuminate your handwriting.

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A stack of my hand bound half sized journals with inset photographs and hand painted paste paper covers.

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A stack of my full-sized hand bound journals with leather straps and hand painted paste paper covers.

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From hand to bound, pages to contain my every thought.

Artistic Expression is as Essential as Breathing • Mary Fratesi

Brett Rawson

In this micro-reflection, Mary Fratesi finds delicate words for the most difficult of experiences: watching a loved one in pain. While this piece began as a pairing of two images, which has a fluency of its own, Mary takes us beneath the tree, and between the lines.

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This Diary is Worth So Much More than the Paper it is Written On • Melissa Dundas-Paine

Brett Rawson


Our mom was diagnosed with colon cancer in 1989. It was a highly emotional time for our family, as Papa (our Dad's Dad) had just passed in a tragic car crash. Our Mom had surgery and underwent treatment shortly after the diagnosisbut being so close to our Papa, I can only imagine she immediately felt faced with her own mortality. I remember her saying that Papa visited her in a dream and told her it wasn't her time to go yet. She decided sometime between then and her death five years later that she needed to write down the story of how she met our dad, Papa's son, as well as when and why they decided to have children. 

But we didn't know this back then. Our dad gave us this handwritten story after her passing. She had also taken the time to type it out, but as you can imagine, the handwritten account tugs so much more at our heartstrings. There is just something special about seeing our mother's penmanship. It evokes so many sweet memories. 

She passed while we were all young, before any of us had started dating. But to have this account written by her of how she met our father and how she felt upon becoming pregnant with each of us and about the days we were born is just priceless. These are her thoughts and feelings written for us by her hand. What she must have been thinking as she penned this is just unfathomable. I'm sure she hoped we would be older and that the journal would have been full of more stories, but tragically, it sits less than a quarter full of her handwriting, as her life was cut short at the age of thirty-nine. 

This diary, or mini memoir, is a treasure to my sisters and myself, and is worth so much more than the paper it is written on.

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Chris & I got engaged on June 10th, 1975.  He was so romantic.  We went parking by the lake, he asked me if I would be his wife and then slid the ring on my finger.  (What a love). One time, maybe a year before this, we were at a hockey game (Flyers). Chris asked me “why do you want to marry me?” I said, “because I want you in my life forever.” He said, “well if I marry you it will be forever.


I remember the night Chris said to me, “I’d like to start to try having a baby, what about you?” I was so excited I couldn’t sleep.  It was in March.  It took 3 months it seemed like forever.  Chris enjoyed the pregnancy so much.  We would lay on the couch at night and wait for the baby to kick.  All my babies were very lazy, maybe 10-15 kicks a day.  



The Pen Thing • Ali Osworth

Brett Rawson



The Pen Thing started with my mother. She kept a small yellow notepad in the kitchen, and she would write on it with a blue felt tip pen—the edges of it smooth and round, curving a u-shape up to the tip. It had metallic flecks in it—the barrel of the pen, not the ink. She had other colors—red, green, and black—all kept in the junk drawer, scattered around with twine, two rulers with marker all over them, and my father’s construction-strength tape measure. She made lists and wrote notes to my brother and I with these pens, always only these pens. She’d start her letter B from the bottom, way below the soft straight line when she wrote her name, Berit. The first letter almost looked like a heart. 

When I sought out one of her pens, standing on my tip-toes to reach into the junk drawer, my mother would warn me: don’t grab the permanent ones. Back then, I thought it was because if you wrote on your skin with permanent marker, it would never come off. I was convinced that’s how my grandfather got his Navy tattoo. And so I used Crayola for longer than was reasonable. But now I know: she didn't want anyone else using Her Pen. 

The first sign of The Pen Thing came in college when I bought a pack of three extra-fine-tipped Sharpies. After first use, I ignored every other writing utensil I possessed. I think I was looking to make an indelible mark upon the world. They resembled my mother’s pens — the felt tip ones — but differed from them just enough that I felt like I was individuating. I kept long lists of verbs I could use in my acting training — “You can’t just feel — you have to get on stage and do.” — all written in Sharpie. I wrote on my scripts in Sharpie. After college, I started keeping a journal and I wrote that in Sharpie, too. It didn’t matter that it bled to the other pages. Sharpie was the most permanent, and I feared death. Sharpie was the most consistent, and I feared change. 

Someone borrowed one of My Sharpies once and wrote on the rubber sole of their sneaker with it like a heathen — the tip was no longer the sleek, immortal ink delivery service that attracted me so to the Sharpie. It was frayed. I began to carry around My Sharpies and other Sharpies — a whole box that I could give away when someone asked if I could lend them a pen. "Keep it. Don't worry about it, I have a whole box." I won't want it after you've used it, were the words I did my best to keep to myself.

The Sharpie era lasted a good long time. My journals are proof: the smudges and spidery bleeds are telltale. It was my father who broke the spell. I was in South Carolina for Christmas, about to finish a journal and start a fresh one. Oh, what a holiday! New Journal Day! I usually had at least two of My Sharpies in my backpack, the one with all the patches from Europe. I scoured it and couldn’t find either one of them, nor the backup unchristened third Sharpie, which I swore I’d left in the front pocket in the same place as emergency tampons.

On that day, my father lent me a pen. It was the one he used to write with in his Franklin Covey planner before he retired — ink black with gold fountain tip and clip, a small Pelikan pelican embossed on it if you look closely. He led me into his library and showed me how to load ink into it. “You can keep it, if you like,” he said. "I'd never steal your pen," I replied. "But I will borrow it."

I took it to the table and wrote an entry in my journal: it wrote like a dream. I filled the yellow journal and sitting nearby was a new red one, and I saw an opportunity to be a continuous person for an entire Moleskin. I walked over to my father. He was watching television with my mother. I asked him if I could steal his pen, and he laughed — he put one hand on his chest and threw his head back like he always does. He never did replace his pen. Perhaps I should feel sad and return his pen. I will not return his pen.

Fountain nibs mold to a person’s hand, you know, just like felt tips. But they are so much more permanent. When a felt tip pen comes to the end of its life, it goes in the garbage. A fountain pen is like having a pet that knows your voice and lives forever. I thought there was something special in that — that the nib on that pen had gotten used to my father and was then getting used to me. Part of me feels like I betrayed my mother in this moment — I did not steal her pens. 

I wrote with my father’s pen for seven months. During that time, I lived in the attic of the house my father and grandfather built in 1954. I made it through the whole red journal with that pen. Once, I thought I lost it. I started hyperventilating and my fiancée made me check all the closets. One of our cats pushed it through a crack under a door that looked like it was made for a gnome — it lead to the eaves. When I retrieved it from the dust and the cotton candy insulation, I remember crying a little. But I can’t find the journal entry to prove it.

That’s when I decided that not losing the pen was more important than being a continuous person. So I bought a ballpoint seven-year pen from the bookstore on the corner. It’s called a seven-year pen because it’s supposed to have enough ink to write meters and meters per day for seven years. That’s a lot of years for me to get attached to a pen! But ballpoint — what am I, a madwoman? I chose the one with a bicycle on the clip because I aspire to be a better person than I currently am, transportation- and fitness-wise. I took it with me on a trip to the Grand Canyon and Joshua Tree National Park; research for a novel I imagine I will resurrect someday. I wrote fast, drunk with ballpoint power, on the edge of a desert staring into the great bowl of the sky.


It broke recently, that pen. I could sense it happening. The clip came loose and I knew it would crack. It still writes, but it is no longer My Pen. Other people can use it now, if they want to use a broken, imperfect, mortal pen. Sensing it was about to break, I bought a set of Staedtlers triplus fineliners. There are ten of them, each a different color, and I tote them around in the clear case they came in. They’re called “porous point pens.” That means “felt tip pens,” in pen addict speak. My friend asked to borrow one recently, and I looked her in the face and said, “No.” Even though there are ten of them, they are all Mine — the “porous tips” have now bonded with me and I’m keeping them. She has since purchased her own set. 


I tried to use the pens evenly so they wore out at the same rate. My journal, the one I just finished, is a veritable rainbow inside. And the clear, easel-prop storage case began to break. I devised a plan that consists of attractive Washi tape and ignoring the death of things.

Since beginning my latest journal, I am using only the black pen in the Staedtler set. It may seem like I’ve thrown caution to the wind, pentropy be damned. But no — it’s because I can get a million more black fineliners. When these pens break and break my heart, the black one, at least, can be replaced. The barrel is a metallic silver; it is triangular, but the corners are round. Smooth. That I am marching ever toward being my mother is not lost on me. Sometimes I write with the fountain pen in the safety of my own apartment, when I need to channel my father. My need to individuate is gone. I could do with a bit of permanence, a bit of history. I could stand to write with the pens and the preoccupations that got used to my family’s hands.

The Screen Test • Joyce Chen

Brett Rawson

Is the notebook half-empty or half-full? In this essay, Joyce Chen sets out to test and trust her hand, a routine tethered to time, with the hopes of avoiding the pitfalls of resolutions by resolving to reflect. Are you up for the screen test?

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