It’s old school. Maybe. William Shakespeare, Charles Dickens, Mark Twain, Charlotte Bronte, Jane Austen and thousands of authors penned their stories, literally.
How many would have chosen the computer if it were available? Plenty. I am using a keyboard over 90% of the time. But when I am stuck. When the image of a fictional scene is in my head but the words to carry my vision to the page are jumbled, stuck or blurry, I leave the screen, pull out paper (usually a yellow legal pad) and pencil and write by hand, in cursive.
I feel tightly connected to my writing when I do it manually.
The writing isn’t perfect. Lines are crossed out. Words are squeezed between spaces. Arrows go this way and that. And sometimes there are doodles in the margins; if I leave any margins.
When the page or pages goes beyond see-able because of the editorial rewriting, I get anxious. I flip on the computer screen and clack away at my keyboard once more, happy I have the technology to polish a work with ease and speed.
But I wonder about the writers who did it all by hand. I wonder how they got it right in a draft or two. How powerful was their connection to their words, their visions, their souls and to the pen in their hands and the paper under their palms.
One of my favorite movie scenes is the beginning of Shakespeare In Love. William Shakespeare is in a garret trying to write. He’s lost his muse, which is the conflict of the story. But his fingers draw my attention. The ones holding his quills are black, stained by the ink. His nails are gray. They look like those of a car mechanic’s. What toil. What labor. What concentration.
What a symbol for the writing process.