I am no longer blogging here at Little Nuances, but I would love for you to join me on my author website www.leewarren.info.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Writing by Hand

I shared a rental car with a friend last week at the writers' conference I attended. His flight home was quite a bit earlier than mine, so when I got to the airport, I knew I was going to have at least four hours of downtime, which was perfect. I had a writing assignment due the next day and this was a great opportunity to work on it.

I bought a pop, fired up my computer, and pulled out my folder containing my writing assignment. I glanced down at the battery on my computer, which should have been fully charged, but for some reason it only had about 45 minutes of life left. I started hunting for an outlet, but I couldn't find one. Anywhere. Finally I discovered that the Albuquerque airport has several computer stations set up throughout the airport, so I headed for one of them. Then I remembered something...I packed my laptop charger in the suitcase I checked at the front desk because my battery normally lasts around three hours and I thought I wouldn't need the charger.

Then another thought came to mind...you have one of your trusty moleskine notebooks and you know your assignment, so why not write it by hand? I never do that. And I wasn't thrilled about doing it then either, but I had little choice. So, for the next few hours I handwrote my assignment. I read through everything I'd written before boarding the plane and frankly I wasn't all that impressed. I was missing transitions, I spotted several grammatical mistakes, and I forgot to include a few things. But I knew I had enough material to reshape the next day and that's what I did. I got my assignment in on time and it all worked out. 

But afterward I thought a little more about the process of handwriting the assignment. Something about handwriting something I'm writing for publication freaks me out. It reveals so many flaws. It screams, "This isn't organized." It whispers, "You aren't a good writer." And in patronizing fashion, it sort of slaps me on the back and says, "But it's the best you could do under these circumstances."

I love recording things in my moleskine notebooks when I'm not writing for other eyeballs. I don't worry about any of those other things. It doesn't have to be organized. I don't care if it is grammatically correct or makes perfect sense. And I certainly don't care if it is my best writing or not. But going through this gave me a new appreciation for all the writers who came before typewriters, word processors, and computers. All they had was pen and paper, but that was all they needed. I suspect that manuscripts took much longer to produce because of the multiple rewrites, but they did it anyway--probably while hearing all of the same intimidating voices in their head that I heard the other day in the airport. They pushed on, and the world is better for it.


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