Finding My Voice Through Letters

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I have come to prefer silence. The sound of silence is far more pleasing than the sound of my voice straining to be heard.

I have struggled my whole life to have a voice.

I am a quiet person. My voice is small and I strain to get a point across in groups. Often I wonder if I have anything worth saying at all.

My haven from this torment is self-expression on paper; where I can’t be spoken over, where my opinions and desires are never forced to disappear into thin air. I have found writing so much more powerful than my vocal chords could ever be. Be it one beautiful letterform or an endless string of emotional sentences in my diary, putting pen to paper feels like freedom to me. My words flow undisturbed through ink instead of my lips.

My infatuation with letters and writing began in childhood. A love for journaling, snail-mail, and scrapbooking naturally enveloped me.

Today, I am a calligrapher.

Letter arts are my passion and my chosen means of expression in this life. I can still remember my first encounter with calligraphy, before I even knew it was an art form with a name and a rich history. I was in kindergarten learning the first letters of the Aleph-Bet. My fascination with the shapes of the letterforms and my stubborn desire to perfectly recreate their shapes still feel so vivid and fresh. I wondered how the letter ‘vav’ came to mean what it does today, and how it is that we could all agree on the definition and purpose of this simple line.

It’s taken years to assess this pattern, but calligraphy and composition have been key to my ability to cope all along.

At ten I wrote an anonymous letter to my teacher when I felt the need to express an injustice I couldn’t find the strength to utter aloud. At thirteen I suffered from depression and wrote poems to unleash a little of the darkness. In college I sent ornate letters to my boyfriend- now husband- sometimes in mirror image writing, to drive him crazy and of course, express my love. All along beautiful letters have come to my aid- with their eternal grace and patience, like an oasis of communication that never runs dry.

Letter arts continue to heal me from the inside out, even as an adult. It’s a form of meditation afterall; it is mindful, intentional, and relaxing. A calm mindset and good posture make for beautiful letters, crisp lines, and free-flowing ink. This lifts me emotionally and physically, reminding me to sit up straight. The slow process of calligraphy forces me to prepare my thoughts and then manually inscript them on the beautiful pedestal they deserve. These techniques make me stronger as a person in mind and in body, more readily able to care for my children, my husband, and myself in trying times.

I’d never have expected to write beautiful letters and words that express others’ hopes and dreams, in addition to my own. But today in my little studio, with just ink and my own two hands I create bespoke artwork that brings joy to others and song to my soul.

Beautiful lettering isn’t only a space of graceful silence for me anymore. It’s also a means to connect with people. I teach others how to breathe intently, clear their minds and dedicate themselves to the practice required for authentic and lovely letter writing. I encourage students by saying that anyone can pursue calligraphy, and those who do, ultimately acquire a new form of self-expression to be treasured.

Calligraphy and writing began as my hiding place, my crutch, my secret world of articulation. Today, they remain healing tools and pastimes. But they’re also a means of amplifying my voice and my passions in letterform and in speech.

Calligraphy is my craft, my calling, and the reason I am called upon.

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Malka is the founder of a calligraphy and fine-art studio specializing in Hebrew & English modern calligraphy and watercolor painting. Malka’s life-long passion for authentic communication by way of letters and handmade artwork has manifested in her bespoke Ketubah creations, luxury event designs and online letter arts classes for companies such as Facebook and Skillshare. Malka loves life in Israel and shares it with her husband, two daughters, and labrador.