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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Ode to the Spiral Notebook



I refuse to believe that I’m the last writer on earth who still writes by hand. I refuse! I’m not that big of a freak. But every writer has their thing. Some use an old school typewriter, some talk into a recorder, some draw story boards; some write naked. Not me, of course—I’m just saying. 

I find writing by hand to be the fastest and most efficient way to get every thought in my head in text form. It’s a habit I’ve had since school. You had to turn in a book report or an essay and the teacher for some strange reason wanted to see your rough draft. I never understood that, like they wanted proof that you actually wrote it. Kinda how you had to show your work while doing a math problem, despite the wondrous invention called a calculator. 

But I digress, I have piles of old notebooks full of story ideas that someday I will go back to and finish. The only problem with that is that I write like a schizo, the true rantings of a mad black woman. Seriously, thirty years from now someone will find my old notes and have to develop a special decoder ring to understand the hieroglyphs I call letters. All caps on one line, half print-half cursive on another line, then weird squiggles on the next. 

It could be the fact that I’m the only right-handed person in my family and yet I write as if I’m left-handed. (Watch a left-handed person write and hold a pen—it’s weird.) I have so many characters talking in my head that my pen strokes change with each personality, especially if I’m on a roll.

Top it off with the sad fact that I can’t type for shit and that pretty much sums it up. I try not to approach my keyboard unless I know for certain that I have something to say. Sure, there will be hundreds of pages of chicken scratch to decipher, and a lot of people rather type it up as they go.  That’s too much of a commitment for me. My scrambled thoughts are one step closer to being a legit document and it better be somewhat coherent. I have an itchy trigger finger when it comes to the DELETE button and I’ll wind up with hours of brain work with nothing to show for it.

With the notebook, anything goes! You can put anything down, jot stuff on the side margins, draw arrows and doodles on the side (yes, I do that) and the best part is that NO ONE is ever going to see it.  It’s not an old doc file that you accidentally send in an e-mail instead of the finish draft. (that’s so embarrassing) It’s just a long, long love note between you and the 14 different characters in your mind.

But every ones routine is different and I just wanted to give props to the traditional hand written method. It sure beats staring at an empty screen for hours at a time and nothing comes out. (I know you guys have done that.)

So give it up for the five subject, 300 page, college ruled spiral notebook! Every time I look at the crisp white surface of a new page with its blue lines, I get a surge of inspiration. It’s a fresh start for new thoughts. And you can write on the back of the page! It’s an awesome feeling and I make a point to carry one with me everywhere I go. They’re durable, light weight and dirt cheap, especially around back to school time, but what you put in them is priceless.

3 comments:

  1. Actually, you are in good company. I have heard that the famous Neil Gaiman writes his stories longhand and types them up later. ^^

    (Since I could never read my own handwriting, I type right from the beginning. But then I spend about ten hours per day in front of the computer, typing. I am pretty quick.)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Yay for notebooks! I hold my pencil funny too, it's the same reason I'm lousy at using chopsticks.

    ReplyDelete

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