Thursday, January 19, 2012
The magic of writing longhand
Suffice it to say that I've been drafting new material for insertion into the earliest chapters. Although I do most of my fresh writing at the keyboard, when I'm writing material to be inserted I usually write it longhand first and then type it into the file. That is what I've been doing here. I have an idea that I feel a need to write such passages longhand because it allows me to slip past a psychological barrier created (for me, at least) by the seeming solidity of hundreds of pages of printed text. Somehow, it is one thing to tweak drafted text with elaborate line-edits, but quite another to insert new (however little) stories into it. It's as if I'm playing god with an already existing world (even if it's a world I've created-- a world in which I am, in a sense, god).
And now I'm reminded of how, before we had personal computers and before we had personal computers we had "word processors," every new iteration-- whether an edit or a major revision-- of a story required substantial retyping, whether from the beginning of the ms or the beginning of a chapter. Back then, whenever I wasn't sure where the story was going, I would retype the entirety of the scene I was working on, to give me a sort of running start. It never failed. I didn't feel I could do that when I switched to a word processor. So then I'd write out some of it longhand, and continue from there.
Writing longhand has thus come to seem a sort of magic. Some writing still work that way. (Tanith Lee, for one.) All writers, pre-typewriters, worked that way (perforce)-- unless, of course, they dictated it aloud to a secretary. Which makes me wonder if writing longhand is magical only for those of us who habitually write at the keyboard.
Speaking of technology: I hope, should a forecast of freezing rain come to pass for Port Townsend, that the power in my cabin doesn't fail. I brought three candles with me (two of them votive size) and a flashlight. I have lots of tablets and pens. And I'm keeping the batteries of all my battery-powered tech charged up. None of that stuff will keep me warm, though, should an ice- or snow-laden branch of a tree takes the wrong powerline down. I once survived a winter power outage at Kath's house for three days: but then she has a woodstove (and lots and lots of oil lamps). Now that was kind of romantic. (In retrospect, anyway.)