the written word

prose by Corynne Stollerman, ’19 — winner of our winter contest!

     When you’re little, you always practice your signature. What if I become famous someday? you ask yourself, scrawling the letters over and over again on any old piece of scrap paper you can find. You decide to experiment: an extra curl here, a flourish there, maybe even a circle over the I if you feel super confident that day.  

     Like so many kids, I  too went through this practice in my younger days. I imagined myself sitting at a table in some convention center, thousands of people lined up to get my autograph on a book I had written. Sometimes, I even imagined myself scribbling my name on a napkin that someone had found in their purse while I sang onstage. I even attempted to quicken my signature to the point where I felt that I could walk by a line of people and write my name for each one while barely stopping at all.

     So when I said I did this when I was little, I was lying. I still do it plenty today. Now it’s gotten a bit more refined, and I experiment with calligraphy, modern lettering, and multiple mediums, including pencil, calligraphy pens and even crayola markers. I’ve always had a passion for words, and, to this very day, I somehow include words in almost every sort of art I am asked to produce.

     Why are words so important to me? Well, that’s simple: words can combine to create sentences that follow certain patterns that we call grammar. The combination of vocabulary and grammar, among many other things, orchestrates what we know as language. Language is something that people tend to take for granted. The multitude of suffixes, participles, tenses, cases, conjugations, declensions– they work in perfect harmony and enable us to communicate virtually anything in a clear, concise way.

     But so much more affects our perception of language beyond the words. We count on our senses to deliver extra information to our brain, which, in turn, allows us to understand nuance that cannot be expressed through the written word. That’s where my passion for calligraphy comes in. For me, calligraphy is a wonderful way to extract the most I can out of a sentence. Elements as simple as size, slant, and spacing can add an extra spice to any word or sentence.

     This brings me back to the subject of my signature. While my name happens to show something about my parents taste in names, my family members, and my ancestry, it doesn’t really capture me as a person. However, my signature is able to do this perfectly. I sign my name with a large C, starting off the name neatly and formally, which I would like to say mirrors how I present myself in real life. The name progresses with a mundane O and R, both small in comparison with the C. Next comes my favorite part: the Y. There are so many different ways to write a Y, and over many years of experimentation, I’ve found that I prefer a rounded Y with a long, curved tail. This extravagant Y in the middle of my name certainly parallels my personality: I may be quiet when you meet me, but once you get to know me, you’ll see that I am a very extroverted and unique person. I finish off the name with two Ns and an E, and often mess up by not leaving a large enough cavity in the E so it just looks like a squiggle. When I finish, I look at the name as a whole. It’s like a self portrait, it shows everything I am, both my good qualities and my flaws, and everything I hope to be. It’s my way of showing the world what I have to offer. Though I may never get to sign autographs, I don’t regret the time I’ve spent practicing my name. It comes quite in handy. It turns out, as my friend once told me, that remembering to write one’s name can make the difference between passing or failing a test.


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