i started using lower case when i was 14, in my first love letter to my first boyfriend. at that point, my main goal in using only lower cases was to impress him.
i found right away, though, that i really enjoyed using only lower case letters. this was in german, a language which uses more upper case letters than english. i am still amused that the majority of my teachers didn’t even notice i was forsaking upper cases, whereas the rest of them was dismayed.
soon i realized that i had to be somewhat judicious in my capitalization. business correspondence, obviously, could not be carried out in lower case letters. but in everything that concerned me personally, i really did not enjoy using mixed-case – i would either use lower case only or, when handwriting short notes, i would print upper case only.
it dawned on me that the desire to write this way was not only because of my apparently hard-wired need to do most things differently than anyone else.
here is what i wrote in the introduction to my tea table book:
writing is a type of pattern-making. this explains, to some degree, why, much to the chagrin of some of my readers, i keep insisting on writing in small letters.
of course there is the appealing visual flow of using no-caps, and my fantasy that this way of writing places me at least somewhere in the vicinity of ee cummings.
more importantly, though, is that this democratic use of letters, without the aristocracy of nouns, proper names and the like, invites the reader to consider each word equally. there is no hopping from one “important” (capitalized) word to the next. each word has equal value. this interrupts our familiar way of reading and makes way, i hope, for new patterns.
i have made the decision to be judicious about my use of capitalization. where i feel that my writing is mostly about my very own voice as a person and as a writer, i want to keep using lower case. it wouldn’t feel like “me” to me if i didn’t.
at the same time, i am very aware of the fact that some people simply find it too cumbersome to read lower case only.
do you, dear readers, have any suggestions as to how to solve this conundrum here on this blog, which is definitely an expression of my voice?
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