Tuesday, June 14, 2016

X As A Signature

Jennifer talks about signing your name...

Yesterday, Ana mentioned how X is used as a signature and that got me thinking. Well, honestly, I’d thought of X as a signature the night before as I was drifting to sleep, so technically, Ana reminded me, but I digress.

Before people learned to write, or for those unable to write, X is an acceptable form of one’s signature. I’m not quite sure why, since anyone can use it. It was often used by women who weren’t taught to write. It was definitely used by the lower classes.

It stuck in my mind because I’ve been filling out a lot of forms recently, which require signatures. Even my kids have had to sign the forms, and what strikes me is the look of their signature. Cursive is still taught in school, but not for very long. My kids type almost everything they do, and they much prefer printing to writing in cursive, so their signatures look like little kids are signing their names, even though they’re teenagers and one is almost legal, at least when it comes to forms.

As authors, we sign our books for book signings and when we give our books to someone we know (whether as a gift or not). If we just signed “X,” how would the reader feel? I know as a reader, I love when I get a personalized message from an author I know and like. An “X” wouldn’t be as meaningful.

I have some author friends who ask me to sign my books but not to write messages because they may want to use my book in a giveaway of theirs. While I love the idea of getting my books in front of other eyes, there is a small part of me that feels weird when they actually admit they’re not going to keep my book. Is it the same as admitting you’ve returned a gift or given it away? I’m not sure, but it feels like it sometimes.

One of the nicest things an established author did for me when I had my first book published was give me a roll of “Signed by author” stickers. She was happy for me and said I’d need them. Every time I sign my books, I think of her and her kindness. Someday, I’ll pass that roll (or a similar one) onto someone else.


Our signatures are more than an X. They are our identity.

8 comments:

  1. Lots of interesting thoughts here, Jen.
    Twice in my life, I deliberately changed how I formed the letters in my signature. I practiced until it became natural. I don't recall if I was undergoing an internal transition at those two times.
    What would a reader think if authors autographed their books how doctors scribble prescriptions?

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    1. I'm not sure a doctor takes as much pride in his or her signature on a prescription as a writer does on his or her own book. So hopefully, ours are clearer!

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  2. I don't like it when I can't read people's signatures. Are they too lazy to write clearly, or in too much of a hurry?

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    1. Might also just be ability. I laugh because my husband has handwriting that is so bad, he often can't read it himself.

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  3. I had to learn a new signature when I chose my pen-name!

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    1. Oh, that could be fun! I remember playing around with mine when I was a child.

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  4. I often think that soon we will be returning to the days of 'make your mark on the line' if we discontinue the teaching of cursive in schools.

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    1. Agreed. I'm so sad it's not taught more.

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