Wednesday 21st December
Does it make any real difference, I am still not sure. I had always written with a pen, (both at school and my neatly copied out poems) this used to be a fountain pen, or actually a whole succession of fountain pens which never seemed to last too long, Parker or not, before biros became universally adopted as the writing implement of choice. The very feel of the thin stylus in ones hand is always so comforting I find, remembered childhood I suppose, but also there is hardly a day goes by without my putting pen to paper at some point. I still carry a little notebook around with me, it is the first thing I place in my handbag and I wouldn’t dream of leaving the house with it. I write quite slowly though I find, in a neat and uniform hand, one of the few attributes I left school with, but I find that if I try to speed up my writing so that my written words begin to catch up with those spinning out of my brain, my writing goes all over the place, the consonants melting into one another and longer words remaining unfinished – a start and then a blurry squiggle, as if I have invented my own form of shorthand. All the neat loops and uniform slant of my handwriting begins to dissolve into a mush which even I struggle to understand; I can either write slowly and neatly or illegibly, there seems to be no middle way.
In a way though, simply because I am only able to write legibly at a certain speed, I find that this means that I have time to select the apposite adjective rather than the one I first thought of, or to attempt to construct my sentences properly rather than meandering with no commas or full stops.
When I transcribe my handwritten missives to my laptop I am really just copy-typing the text whole, making only the occasional punctuation correction, which more often than not I revert back to the original on re-reading. I know that I have to commit it all to Word before it can be sent to the internet but I cannot quite get used to typing directly. I wrote most of ‘Catherines Story’ by hand and then typed it up the next morning and got myself back into the story by this act of repetition, but the creative bit was written with pen and paper. But occasionally I do write straight onto computer, then I find the words are forming far faster than with a pen, but so are my errors and I find I am constantly misspelling even the simplest of words and having to go back and correct all the time. And as there is less time between thought and finished words the sentences are half-formed and it doesn’t actually flow as well as when I took a bit longer and wrote it all out by hand. Agreed I do not have to copy-type it all out again, and can see the spelling mistakes and what the computer thinks is bad syntax, which I often ignore (at my peril maybe).
So, although it takes longer I think the old-fashioned way suits me best. It may take twice as long and is tedious and repetitious and eventually it all disappears into the vast maw of the blogosphere and may never resurface again anyway, but in a way I feel I am keeping a slightly outmoded tradition alive too, which is no bad thing. So yes, while the keys of my laptop are quite familiar to me now, it is the pen and notebook I reach for first.