Friday, November 4, 2011

How Do You Do What You Do?

That's the question today from NaBloPoMo.  How do you write, pen to paper or computer all the way?

I guess I'm a split personality writer.

For a long time, I was a bit of a purist and wrote only pen to paper.  It was easy.  Note books were cheap and unless you were a huge pen snob, pens were cheap.  I was both.  I had stacks of cheap, 3 for a buck notebooks and tons of ball points from everywhere and anywhere.  Those were my staples.  But I also had a weakness.  I had some really fine journals.  Amazing covers.  Paper with just the right feel and texture.  For the longest time I had an amazing ink pen. It wrote like a dream.  The ink was messy and expensive, but it was killer.  Right now, I'll confess to a total Sharpie Pen addiction.

Computers kept creeping into my life.  First at work, then in life.  Learning to use them carries a tremendous learning curve for me and often the stress of trying to use the technology was enough to push me back to the old familiar comfort of paper and pen.  There is nothing complicated about flipping open a notebook and writing.  It takes no time to start.  Nothing disappears by accident.  The scratched out bits show the rabbit hole of the mind.

Technology kept on rolling along, all enticing and supposedly getting easier and easier to use.  I learned more, not necessarily because I wanted to, but because the requirements were there.  I needed to be able to use the machines well to do my jobs.  You can't be any one's executive secretary if you can't create documents and letters.  I had debts.  I needed those jobs.  Sometimes you learn to do something because you have to do what you have to do to take care of those you are responsible for.

In school and in my writers dreams it got more and more necessary too, to be able to use a computer easily and productively.  In the course of those years, it became a requirement to turn in your work done on computer.  It became impossible to submit writing unless done on a computer.  Then it evolved again and had to be done via electronic submissions.

So I have learned, sometimes kicking and screaming along the way, but I have adapted.  There are many things out there somewhere in computer never-never land, sucked away and lost mid-thought.  It's a steep learning curve.  On the other hand, now I have novels saved off on flash drives.

I've gotten the hang of using this "new" writing medium.  I'm not very sophisticated, but there are plenty of technology things now that delight me once I figure them out.  I usually still have to have someone teach me unless I have hours and hours to sit and learn it on my own, but I have my Peeps who always help me out, when I'm too stupid and too impatient.  I have kids.  Technology has always been part of their lives so it's intuitive to them and they help me a lot too, complete with eye rolls, but it's OK.

Pretty honestly at this point I can say I like to write on my computer.  I like the capacity to have other things open and going at the same time.  It is a feature to me that I can have Pandora playing away, and Facebook open and Skype and my email all right there while I'm writing.  I love the ability to switch windows and look up a thought.  Google it, as we now all say.  I've stumbled across things like Yarny that thrill me.

Now, all this technology embracing aside, I still write pen to paper.  I don't like to travel with my laptop.  I have never gotten comfortable with taking my machine and going to a coffee shop or whatever to write.  That's not me.  It's distracting.  It freaks me out.  Notebook, sure.  Laptop? No thanks.

And there are some things worth paper.  Personal journals have to be paper.  Even if years later you burn them or shred them or just throw them away.  Over the years I have destroyed lots of paper writing.  Journals and stories and poetry and all kinds of things.  Computers don't allow that privacy, that control.  Everything always lurks out there somewhere, somehow, or at least that's what we're all told all the time and for some of us unable to figure it all out, we just believe that.

Letters are worth paper.  Email is great, very immediate, but letters are something to hold.  There are unwritten things to be gained in letters.  The pen strokes, the curves or sharpness of the letters.  The very paper chosen, how it's smooth or wrinkled, coffee stained or kids fingerprints.  It can be a remembrance of things lost, things that can never be again.  It's a shred of a life to hold, even if just for a moment.

So you can see clearly now, I'm a split writer.  I use both to suit my whims.  Technology lends me productivity, I only need to attack a task once or twice.  Paper has a weight to it, a realness to it that comes with nothing else.  I need them both.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This inspired me to start writing on paper again. I do truly miss the feeling of it but I'm so accustomed to my laptop, toting it or my tablet everywhere I go.

But I think you're right, there is something deeply more satisfying about writing something on paper. It feels...real...more legitimate somehow.

great post! :)