Thursday, March 5, 2009

How We Write

While working on a short story in class last night, (my apologies, professor), I suddenly remembered being back in junior high and writing long, gossip-filled letters, which I'd give to friends during the passing bell and get one in return. Part of the fun of these letters was folding them into elaborate shapes--butterflies or frogs or lidded boxes. I suppose all it's akin to kids text-messaging in classes now. But honestly, texting seems so boring. And brief. And without the chance to expand your origami skills.

At last weekend's conference, someone asked speaker Ruth Danon what she thought about writing long-hand versus on a computer. It's a question writers often lob around, and the usual answer is that long-hand is infinitely better than a sterile computer. Ruth's answer was that it's generational. She prefers a pen, because it feels like an extension of her. But she said that to young people, the computer is an extension of them.

My answer is that a rollerball pen's great if you can get it. A computer will do when you can't, and when some serious story surgery is in order. For brainstorming and for the beginnings of stories, I prefer the glass keys of an early twentieth-century Smith Corona. If I ever get the nerve (or a big enough writer's block) to tote a typewriter to a coffee shop, I'll blog about the looks I get. I'll type the entry right there.


Manasse said...

I am so in between. I love rough drafting with a pen...and then typing it on a computer to edit and edit and edit some more.

I just love the process.

Mark Panik said...

My laptop is definitely an extension of myself. It usually extends right onto my lap.

Ba dum bum.

My laptop is the place where I talk with people, read the news, write anything important, pay my bills, look for a job, make a living, watch tv, and express myself creatively.

If a typewriter could do all that AND fold into 1" high rectangle, and look great at the same time - I'd drop my laptop in a second.

Literally - I would drop it right on the floor.