Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Wednesday October 14

We made what may be our final boating jaunt for the season on Shasta Lake last Friday, with one of Dylan's schoolmates and her parents along for the ride. I was beautiful out on the lake, and warm, until the sun dipped below the horizon. Then it cooled, quickly, reminding us that summer is indeed over, and what we call "Indian Summer" is often but a teasing connection to our memories of a season recently past.

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My online amigo Algernon and I have something in common: We both went through much of our lives thinking we'd never be fathers. I've enjoyed watching his journey into fatherhood, even if from afar. Here's one of his posts of Monday Morning Gabriel.

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In the early eighties, I bought a copy of a Barron's Learn to Type book, borrowed my sister's old electric typewriter, and began pecking away for twenty minutes a day. I only need look at about a half dozen abandoned journals from my teens and twenties to remember that writing longhand was always a chore. If I hadn't taken up typing, I doubt I would ever have taken up writing as a hobby.

I usually don't even make notes in longhand to organize my thoughts before writing. I should, but I don't. I'd almost rather take a beating than write anything of length in longhand.

I'm guessing that in the days before word processing, it was common for folks to write drafts in longhand before typing a manuscript. I suppose nowadays, with the proliferation of blogs and other online product, it's more common to compose on the keyboard. That's why it struck me when I read this on the blog The Daily Coyote.

"Part of the reason I don’t write much on this blog is that I cannot compose on the computer. I wrote my entire book (both of them, actually) with pen and paper. I often write things longhand, things I want to share on this site, but simply never get around to transcribing them into the computer."

I'm curious. How many of you writers out there compose in longhand?

10 comments:

Debby said...

I actually can't. Well, I suppose if there was no other way... My mind works better if I am sitting at a computer, mind working furiously, thoughts dripping out of my fingers into a key board, appearing on the screen in front of me. Then after the rapid put together, I sit and re-read, and move things around, and change and delete to my little hearts content. To me the key is speed.

Redlefty said...

Never. Keyboard only for me. My wrist cramps about two sentences of longhand.

Mary Paddock said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mary Paddock said...

Lots of professional writers recommend changing your approach if you get stuck while writing. Christopher Moore grabs a notebook and goes to a local coffee shop and scribbles out scenes. A friend of mine carries a tape recorder with him on walks. I've tried both of these with some measure of success (I like venn-type diagrams and fact trees), but prefer my computer. I have the most success with carrying my lap top along on trips. It's amazing what lack of contact with the outside world will do for one's writing.

Kelly said...

First of all, I'm not a writer and have never claimed to be.

However, I do keep a journal (have since I was in the 7th grade) and also have a prayer journal, both of which are in longhand. When making blog entries, I do like Debby... write, then read and rearrange.

I will occasionally write a letter on my computer and print it out on fancy paper, but usually prefer to correspond in longhand. Sadly, it's a lost art.

I love paper, pens, pencils, notebooks, journals, etc.

Pam said...

I stil prefer to write my poetry in longhand, to begin with. I have tons of notebooks. Some I keep around the house, even in my purse.

First draft is usually in longhand. Then it's on to the computer.

Bob Barbanes said...

I don't know what I'd do if I had to go back to writing things out long hand. I think I'd rather give someone a beating than do that. Working on the computer is just faster and easier. My thoughts seem to come out more clearly. And of course, it's easier to correct/change things.

But Hal, you better hope we're never both in the same room when we're given an assignment to write something out longhand!

Bob said...

When I was in college working on our campus newspaper, we were instructed to "compose at the computer." I would write my stories out in longhand and sneak them into the newsroom and try to hide the fact that I was copying from my written notes. I finally made the transition, somewhat, but it was hard.

When I clerked for a judge after law school, he actually preferred my memos be in longhand and, fortunately, I had pretty decent, legible handwriting.

When I was a practicing lawyer, I started to dicate things. The turning point came when a particular assistant told me she would transition me from dictation to MS Word. It took about a month and that was about 15 years ago and I've never looked back.

I still try to handwrite personal notes because, like Kelly, I think there is something special about them and something that is, sadly, dying out. But for the most part, I now compose at the keyboard and my handwriting has suffered because of it.

Chris said...

I am a writer (pharmaceutical industry)but gave up longhand with the typewriter in my sophomore year of college. Occasionally I'll make outlines longhand, but I just go with a stream of consciousness on the computer, then go back and weed-out/revise. Plus, my handwriting has gone beyond illegible.

What caught my eye about this post was the first line: I went thru the last 15 years thinking I wouldn't ever have a kid, but that changed in May. It hasn't been easy coming to terms with my new life. Put that kid in my arms though and everything changes.

PaintedPromise said...

i went so far as to be tested for carpal tunnel and told that is not my problem, but i do have tendonitis... hence writing longhand HURTS! besides, my handwriting has never been that great and i think typing much more legible. since i type for a living it just flows so well, and like Debby, i sit and re-read, and move things around, and change and delete {and add!} to my little hearts content. ;)