Monday, June 14, 2004

Literary Intimacy

I miss writing with a pen. On paper.

I used to write longhand incessantly. Everything I wrote, I wrote longhand. I wrote entire novels long hand, then went back and retyped them in the computer, rewriting as I went -- fixing this little thing, altering that little thing.

That was probably the last time I consciously did rewrites, save this past year as I've worked at adapting one of my short stories into a play.

There's a wonderful intimacy when you're writing long hand. Something about the way you can feel the paper underneath your hand as your write, the way you can actually see the ink appear, and then dry a few seconds later. Some days I'd write so fast, that my hand would be on the next line before the previous line was dry, and I'd end up with a smudge along the bottom of my hand, from dragging it over the still-wet ink.

The only problem with longhand, is that it's not terribly practical for me.

I wrote a piece longhand a few months back after a power outage. I had nothing to do but sit in my house and stare out the window and *think*. So I just grabbed a pen, a notepad, and a candle and started to write down what I was thinking about.

I wrote for probably close to two hours. A few days later, mostly liking what I wrote, I sat down and transcribed it into the computer. When I was done, I scrolled back to seem how much writing it had been, and it was...short.

Not *short* short, but not as long as I had expected it to be from the time I invested in it.

It was disappointing, to say the least.

I finally had to come to the conclusion a few years ago that, even if it wasn't quite as intimate, even if it left me feeling somehow disconnected from the material that I was writing, I was a typist, no way around it. I've been typing for years, and can simply do it significantly faster than I can write longhand.

It's a trade-off -- intimacy for speed -- I admit. But it's one, I guess, I'm willing to make. I'd like to find a project, though -- the right project, which hasn't really shown itself to me yet -- to tackle longhand again. Just to have that intimacy back, if only for a short time.

And let's just leave it at that, because I just realized that I've used the word "intimacy" a whole bunch of times while talking about paper.

That just seems wrong.

1 comment:

Sheryl-Lynn said...

Oh for a good calligraphy pen and a piece of parchment to write on...