The Graveyard

The Lair Of Gary James

Putting Pen To Paper

Posted by BigWords on June 23, 2009

Writing, and by writing I mean actually writing, is a dying art. Typing words onto a computer is one thing, but sitting down with a pen and paper seems to be an anachronism in the modern world. But why? It was how I wrote mostly everything up until a few years ago (and I scratched out a massive novel on paper), so I’m slightly disturbed to find that so many writers have ditched the tactile sensation of laying down the words by hand.

I like the smell of ink, and the weight of the finished manuscript in my hands, but… Here’s where I go all practical minded and decide to raise the tone of this blog a little – the time and expense of continually refreshing the stock of pens is a bitch. I go through the average pen in a week, sometimes sooner if it is a cheap pen. Typewriters (remember those?) were soon my big obsession, and I thumped away on the keys into the small hours of the night – not entirely to the pleasure of my neighbours. It was a step towards noise pollution fun, but had little else to recommend it.

A person could go insane with the clickety-clackity reverberating through the house at 3am.

Computers, on the other hand, have none of the drawbacks. I don’t have to crank the pages through manually, change the ribbon, go over the sentence I mangled with white-out or any of the hundred other minor inconveniences… But I miss pen and paper. The lure of the handwritten word calls to me like a siren on the rocks, tempting me with the promise of a finer understanding of my ideas. It doesn’t work like that, naturally, though there is something essentially writerly about actually writing.

Today was a revelation of sorts, as I managed to turn a fairly mundane sentence into a paragraph of weirdness through a half hour of rewriting, all on paper. I haven’t written longhand in a fairly long time, and it is surprising how hard it is to take pen in hand again when the computer is so easily in reach.

Must resist… Must resist… Must resist…

Damn. It’s too handy. The laptop is such a beautifully contrived convenience, so simple to cart around and open when needed. The addiction to electronic media is one that I wholly own up to, possessing (as I do ) too many consoles by far, a clutch of televisions and a growing family of cassettes, floppies, cartridges, CDs and DVDs… The space is at a premium these days and I often find myself being the cause of a landslide of items, scattering media across the floor like a stumbling giant in a world of Lilliputians.

I’m too clumsy by half to rely on equipment powered by electricity, and too lazy to do things by hand. I’ll wait on the tech to catch up with me – someone is bound to come up with a brain leech sooner or later.

You know what those mad scientists are like…


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