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Monday, April 20, 2009

I type, therefore I am

Last night I was lying in bed trying to go to sleep, and for some reason I began to think about my story. I think it had something to do with a conversation I had this weekend with Angie about a story she's writing. Anyway, I was thinking about how I need to rewrite my bad guy. After the first few paragraphs I wrote, I've never been completely satisfied with him. He's just ending up much more bombastic than slyly evil, and I want to strike a slightly darker tone.

These thoughts led me, in some roundabout way I don't even recall, to remember something I read somewhere about writing. It may have been Stephen King's On Writing, but I'm not sure. The thing I remembered was something like, there's something very organic and powerful about the act of physically writing instead of typing. I thought this was a nice idea when I read it, but just not something that will work for me. What struck me most when I was thinking about this last night was that, when I remember my origins of writing stories as a kid, I don't remember physically writing. I remember typing. I remember sitting at the typewriter, pounding out words letter by letter, fitting as many words as possible on one line, whiting out mistakes with this special typewriter white-out. I'm not 100 percent sure what my motivation was for typing, but I wonder if it was because I thought there was something very writerly about typing. Any kid can scribble out a story on a piece of ruled paper, but only a select few are worthy of something as grown up and authorial as typing.

I'd never made this very simple, almost silly connection between my writing roots and my present-day practices. Besides, nowadays my reasons for typing are pretty mundane and practical. I type much faster than I write, and I need to be able to keep up with my thoughts, to get them on the page before they disappear. But now, remembering my origins, I think it's perfectly fitting, and much more organic and powerful, for me to type. How could I do anything else?

4 comments:

Chris said...

Hmmm....was that the Smith Corona typewriter for which you could change a disk (or something like it) and switch from Times Roman to calligraphy?
And why did you want ot (how on earth can one transpose the word to??) to fit as many words as possible on one line?
Did we have a typewriter before that one? Do you still have any of those typewritten stories?

Aaron said...

type writer? what's that? If i can't download it on the interwebs, then it doesn't exist.

A Marie said...

@ Aaron: If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to Twitter it, does it exist?

I tried starting to write my story by hand a couple of weeks ago, and I got so frustrated by the pace that I gave up. I didn't feel creative, just frustrated. Plus, my hand writing is so atrocious that I'm perilously in danger of not being able to transcribe what I wrote. It's probably a generational thing, but I think each and every writer has to find their own comfort zone.
I know mine is in a cafe on a laptop. I can't write at home. At least not in my current apt. Hopefully some day in the near future I'll move into a place where I can have a space for my laptop.

By the way, that was a really good conversation on Sat. I needed it. Thanks for the encouraging words. I know I'll need more. :-)

Aaron said...

tree? forest? The jedi crave not these things.