15 March 2006

Writing Backwards

Lettering

I have a couple of very small rough sketches for this "Serenity Prayer" piece, but the one thing I know I want to include is the actual words of the prayer, so I thought I'd start there. The Serenity Prayer as it stands is somewht trite, but the way it's used by people who are recovering from addiction is anything but trite. People in recovery most often recite the Serenity Prayer in times of great stress and agitation, so I wanted to write the prayer in a way that would reflect this. I let myself randomly mix up and repeat the words so they would become more ambiguous and express some of the doubts and fears that a recovering alcoholic or addict faces in extreme moments. I also wanted to work directly on the block, so I wrote the prayer backwards with a soft pencil, which was really exciting.

Excitement is what I'm looking for. I can't imagine I'll ever be doing pure improvisation in woodblock, but I'm trying to adjust my process of working so that I'm engaged with the work at each step. I want to be constantly reevaluating as I go, constantly getting feedback from the work in progress and constantly readjusting my decisions based on what's happening in each step.

As Tom said in an earlier comment, it might turn out to be a good print and it might not! What I want to do is pull myself away from my fear of making a bad print. I want to be willing to make a bad print, willing to start over or throw a block away if it doesn't satisfy me, willing to not know where I'm going, willing to "waste my time." Mostly I want to experiment, to play, to find my own voice in this medium.

39 comments:

Terry said...

You mean the backward writing is freehand? I can't wait to see it printed!

And I see what you were getting at when you talked about 'diving in' in the earlier comment. My medium is different from yours, but I can SO relate to the struggles as you describe them! The digital vs. physical medium thing, too. I was just thinking about that today, (as i have to crank something out quickly) and started going down that trecherous path of contemplating style and identity and all that. But I caught myself and said, I'm getting too old to be playing by the rules; I'm just going to do what I feel like doing. ...and that frees me to look for (I'd like to say 'find' but i'm not there yet) my own voice.

Ellen Shipley said...

Very fine backwards writing. You're a natural. You aren't left-handed by any chance are you?

Anonymous said...

Curious. I'm left handed and recently discovered that I can write comfortably and fluently backwards - mirror writing. I studied calligraphy for many years, which probably helps in the copperplate script stroke-sequence, but never thought to try it until recently.

Malcolm

Anonymous said...

I discovered almost 30 years ago that I could effortlessly write backwards, right-to-left, and when held up to a mirror, it looks identical to my left-to-right, forward-slanted, script writing, just backwards. I can do it purely at will and it is NOT what many want to label as some form of dyslexia. I have always been an excellent reader out loud, am profoundly creative and artistic, and I am a left-handed female. I've never yet had the opportunity to meet anyone else who could do this. Everyone I have ever asked about this ability, including various doctors, psychologists and hand-writing analysists have never even heard of anyone being able to do this until I demonstrate it for them, which leaves them stunned with no explaination. I don't know why/how I can do it either. It would certainly be a very interesting study I would volunteer for!

Chrissy said...

I'm right handed and I too can fluently write backwards with my left hand. I discovered this as a teen and whenever I showed people they just told me I was a weirdo!

Anonymous said...

I have been writing backwards since 6th grade when we were learning about Leonardo Da Vinci. It comes so natural to me. I'm also left-handed. In fact it's easier for me than forward writing. I don't consider it a learning disability but rather a gift. A gift because it takes a lot of skill to write in cursive, neatly backwards. I'm a backwards writer and proud. Most people I come in contact with now thinks it's neat and want me to teach them how to do it.

Anonymous said...

I can effortlessly write backwards also. I am mostly right handed, but I can write with my left hand too. I have never known any one else to be able to do this. When I showed some people in my family, they just joked around and said something about it being a sign of the Devil. I use it to write things I don't want other people to read. It is always amusing to watch someone pick up my work and flip it over a couple times trying to read it. :)

Jasmine

Anonymous said...

I have also been able to write backwards for quite some time. I can write upside down and backwards too. I recently discovered I can write forward with my right hand and backward with my left at the same time, creating the mirror image. My students think it's cool so I guess I'll keep using it as entertainment!

Anonymous said...

I have been able to write backwards ever since I can remember and also write backwards and upside down and its just as neat as my regular writing which sometimes I have to stop and think how to write. Have always wondered and people ask why I am able to do this so easily.

Annie B said...

This post about writing backwards has become a very popular post in my woodblock blog! I guess there are a lot of folks who have a natural ability to write backwards. I was writing backwards here because everything has to be mirror-imaged for printing, including writing.

Here's an interesting link about some research done on mirror-writing.

Anonymous said...

Hi!

I can write entire stories backwards, too. I don't have to think about it. I just can, at will, so there's no dyslexia or anything. I'm right-handed. by the way.

Becca

Anonymous said...

I'm female and completely right-handed, and recently discovered I can easily write backwards and upside down. Writing both backwards and upside-down at the same time is a bit more of a challenge though :)
I didn't think writing backwards was that difficult or uncommon until my coworker caught me doing it once and called me a freak.. so it prompted me to check the internet for more info about it, but there's not a whole lot out there..

Irene Leland said...

I can write backwards, upside down (forwards and backwards) and also in reverse ( meaning last letter of word drawn first going to left until reaching first letter, that you will see completed in regular form. It is easy for me to do! I have met one other lady who can do the mirror writing, but that's it, and I know a heck of a lot of people! I have always considered it a gift. I also can imitate perfectly any signature!

Anonymous said...

I can write upside down and backwards very well and fast. I'm right-handed. But I can't read backwards. I can read upside down. I'm a hungarian 17-year-old girl.

Anonymous said...

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Lyrehc said...

I came across this site, and was very excited and relieved that there were others out there like me. Writing backwards was the first way I learned how to write. I didn't know you were suppose to go the other way until I went to school. Now I've perfected it and can write just as fast, just as neat either way. I am left handed. Does that have anything to do with it? I noticed on the other comments that people mentioned which hand they were. I was just curious.

Anonymous said...

I am so excited, I have never come across anyone until now that can do this.

I have been able to write backwards since as far back as I can remember. I can't write upside down through, but can read backwards writing and upside down righting with ease, which is a great help for reading stories to my children when they want to hold the book themselves and you are sitting oppostie them, and also for peeking at other peoples notes in meetings!! (invaluable!)

I am a complete left hander, left footed, eyed etc. I read an article the other day which said that mirror writing was more common amongst left handers and only 5% of lefthanders can do it - so 5% of say 13% makes me feel very special. Yes, people thinkg its weird, but I love the fact i can do something so completely unusual, and makes me feel gifted rather than weird.

4o yr old female.

irene Salis said...

hi I was wondering if anybody could give me an info:
im ambidextrous i can write regular and backwards with hand separate and i can write with both hands simultaneously in opposite directions. Plus i can write upside down regular and backwords.
Now this thing is really cool but it s causing me troubles.
do you know if there a website that shows how this "gift" is related to the left/right brain function or do you know you can i ask to?
by the way i already went to some docs and they seemed by to be impressed by it but not really knowing how to explain it... they just told me not to worry couse im not dislexic...
thank you

SSQuo said...

I write backwards. I think I have been doing it since Grade 3 or 4. I used to fill every empty sheet of paper with my backward writing. I just enjoy doing it. Really do. I am right-handed, and write backwards with my right hand only.

I second the proposition for someone to conduct a study on people who write backwards. I am ready to be a volunteer.

Contrary to popular belief, or because of the theories behind Leonardo Da Vinci's writing explanations, I am NOT dyslexic.

I love my skill. :)

Thanks for sharing the research link.

irene leland said...

I was so glad to read the last comment, and I also am SO glad to have this gift and think of it as a very special thing! ( I had posted an earlier comment about my ability to write backwards, upside down...forwards and backwards, and in reverse. I can also forge any signature and have filled a use for that only when I've been given permission by the person who is not available.) At any rate, I really think that there might be a common link with all of us and our unusual writing talents. I would love to know if we all have other same "links", such as extreme creativity, artistic ability, etc. etc. I too have been wondering if we could all link up somehow for a study...or just to answer questions. Best of luck to every "Backwards, Upside Down Person" out there! And know that you are REALLY straight up..right on!!!
Irene Leland

Anonymous said...

I too can write backwards!! I've been doing it since I was little and just always do it, and never really knew why. I didn't even know it was that weird really until people started saying it was cool I could do that. I just assumed anyone could do it. I'm just curious what it could mean, personality wise! I'm not particularly creative, and not very artistic. But I think i read somewhere that it's linked to having a linear thinking pattern. (I often use words like a), or first of all, or number one to express myself) Just wondering if that was common at all??

Nithia said...

hi wow
I didnt realise so many of you could write backwards. I thought i was the odd one. So glad to find you all. Im a righthanded person and also write backwards. I have been writting since a kid...and everyone thought it was silly. As i grew older...probably at 17 i started to get more noticed for this writting. I write all personal messages backwards in code as well. It really helps keep you mind in peace knowing that others will be cracking their heads!! hehe

Ginny said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ginny said...

I just googled backward writing after showing a colleague at work and getting the usual surprised reaction. Interesting to find this site and the link to the research about possibly being genetic. I'm right handed and don't actually use backwards writing except if it ever comes up to show someone. It isn't as neat as my usual writing but just now when I tried again for the first time in years I didn't make any mistakes so I guess it never leaves you. I can also read upside down and am always surprised when people can't. Interestingly I only "learnt" the backwards writing in a boring school lesson about age 15, wrote the alphabet out with a thick pen which seeped through the page, turned page over and traced over the letters and it just kind of stuck! Also - of course you don't need a mirror to read it, just turn the page over and hold up to the light. There are so many of us, definitely not freaks but uniques ;o)

Capt.Howdy said...

I too can write backwards and read upside down. I am left handed as well. It's great to see I am not the only one. I write, bowl, pitch (softball), shovel snow and iron lef handed. among other things I can't think of right now. I bat, play golf and cut (with scissors) right handed though. I guess I have the best of both worlds. Oh yeah, born on Halloween too!

connie said...

I went to the Dr. thinking there was something wrong with me. He said being able to write backwards and read upside down was a gift not a problem in my brain. Now I just love amazing my friends. I am mostly right-handed but do everything backwards people say. Connie in Washington State.

Anonymous said...

I have been able to naturally write backwards since I can remember! I never had to try to do it; it just came naturally. I write better backwards than I do forwards (I am left-handed). Good to know there are more of you out there...and I agree...most people I come across find it very entertaining :)

Anonymous said...

I am 39, left handed and have always been able to write backwards exactly the same way that I write forwards. Actually same speed. Reading when tired I find myself reading the end of a line before the beginning...but it is hard to foloow a story that way
!

Brigette said...

Me too, and I in my 50s. I am an art teacher and can read backwards, write backwards ( since I was little- but was told I was not allowed to), always prefer to read books from the last chapter forward and am severely right handed. Whew. I have been looking for a long time to see if there are others. And there are. Yeah us! Oh, and my right handed writing is really bad.

Novena said...

Yep, me too. Wrote backwards my entire life - natually. Must think before writing forward. I write very neat and fast.

Anonymous said...

I can also write in "mirror image"! This occured at about age 11 when I did it accidentally without even realizing it...I am great at grammar and reading to myself or aloud. People say it is a possession of some kind to do with the spiritual world and just so happen I am a medium. But still do not understand this act. I do not do this everytime but alot, some say it occurs when your spiritual sense is very high or they say it's because of the gift I have ....I dont know?????

Allison said...

I LOVE that all of us "natural" mirror writers have found each other. Should we start a website that encourages more research on this? Should we all volunteer for brain scans? No one seems to really know for sure what allows for us to be able to do this so naturally.

I'm right-handed, but mirror write with my left hand - always been that way, effortlessly.

It's also neat to draw symmetrical pictures with two pencils at the same time.

eaglewizdom said...

Wow - I always thought it was something anyone could do with practice, even though it never took practice for me and no-one else seemed to want to do it! Guess it's pretty rare!

I'm naturally right-handed, very artistic and crafty. I am not dyslexic, but like others have no trouble reading upside down, and just tested myself for the first time and can apparently write upside down fairly freely too.

I started practicing writing with my left hand when I was about 7 or 8 years old and found it fairly easy to do. I soon discovered that I could write forwards with my left and backwards with my right at exactly the same time without mistake! I used to write entries i my journal backwards just for fun.

All for more studies about this!
~Liza

shegkeel said...

I too have always been able to write backwards with ease. I am right-handed and can write forwards and backwards at the same time also. I use it as a party trick. I have challenged my students (6th and 7th graders) to write the same way. Some can, though it is with effort. I would be interested in participating in some sort of study, if one were available. My experience with this is that it is somewhat rare, and more study is needed to see where it comes from and what comes with it.

Sherry

Anonymous said...

Well, well, well; how wonderful to find out that there are others out there just like me! Yes, I can write backwards, frontwards, both hands at the same time (the left hand writing forwards whilst the right hand is writing backwards simultaneously), upside down. Can read upside down, back to front etc. My father could also do it when he was alive. My father was left handed; I am right handed as well as ambidextrous. Was always curious as to why I could do this. It is a relief to see that I am not the only one who is able to do it.
I was always scared it was something to do with religion (I was born on Christmas Day).

Jenny Juice said...

This is so exciting, like a forum for cursive mirror writers - I can do it too! And I have always used it in my art, it is just mysterious and beautiful and fun! Yeah us :)

debby b said...

It is great to find out others can do this! I was one of those kids that was still mixing up d's and b's when I was in 2nd grade and thought that might be why I can write backwards with my left hand as easily as I can forward with my right hand. I didn't even know I could do it til my daughter showed me she could do it, so I tried. Then my son piped in that he could do it too. At the time they were in high school and I was in my late forties. I've never known anyone else who could do this, so it's great to fine out its a gift not some crossed wires in our brains! Both of my children are extremely intelligent. My daughter received her law degree from Yale Law School and my son has his MBA from Stanford. I am an art teacher and artist.

Anonymous said...

This is almost certainly the adolescent end of the occult at work. Graffiti using unique alphabet, pentagrams, upside down crosses, devil's tail and reverse writing. Serious (usually generational) occultists are not given to such blatant attempts to draw attention to themselves.

Lauren Steer-Fry said...

This is so awesome. I too have always been able to mirror write, backwards, upside down, both hands opposite directions, etc. I am left handed but only writer left handed - everything else in life is right handed.