Monday, April 22, 2013

Call Me Archaic

When people discover that my manuscripts are first handwritten, they cannot believe that I do all that extra work. Most writers type their first drafts. Very few of us bother with pen and paper.

The funny thing is that I type my blog posts directly into Word. No pen, no paper and no ink on my hands. Blog posts are relatively short. I type them. Read them over. Read them aloud. Fix typos. Format. Preview. Post.

One day, an idea popped into my head. It was the beginning scene for a new story. The kind of story I did not know if I would do. Sure, I wrote a dystopian science fiction, but would I touch a space opera?

I did. And I decided to write it solely on the computer.

Opening my extremely old version of Word, I typed my typical manuscript title page. When I started page 2, I changed the normal style to my self-made manuscript format style. I typed, “Chapter 1,” then hit enter.

My opening scene sprang to life magically from the blinking cursor. Black letters in times new roman filled the white page in double spaced lines. Instead of crossing out, I backspaced. Highlight and drag replaced my arrows.

The new story is told from an omniscient point of view. It switches between scenes in space and on planets. The result is many relatively short chapters. Usually when I write, I leave determining chapter breaks to the editing phase.

Three thousand words into the story, my mind no longer wanted to continue this experiment. I removed a stack of unlined paper from a ream. On the top of the page, I wrote the title, Where Pirates Go to Die. Underlined it. In the top right corner, I wrote “1,” then circled it.

Starting at the left edge, I wrote, “from Chapter 4.” Right underneath, I copied the last two lines from the screen.

Without the computer, I have penned more of my space opera. The black ink from my pen scribbles whatever flows from my brain. The pen scratches out. It arrows. It carrots where I should add the words crammed between the lines. Ink is fluid. So are my thoughts. In a digital word, I am analog.

I guess the resistance to writing equals typing makes me “old school” or a “Luddite.” Perhaps I am just an old-fashioned kind of girl. Maybe I am one of those set-in-their-ways, unchangeable people. Or perchance my brain likes to do things in its own way and not in ways that others suggest. To write fiction is to dream.

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