Thoughts About Thoughts…About Writing

When I write,  I usually “write”. I prefer scribbling my thoughts down on paper first, instead of staring at a screen. Specifically, I write with a fountain pen, or a gel-ink based pen if no fountain pen is handy. Why? I like both the scratching sound of the tip against the paper, and the oddly professional feeling that descends over me while I’m scratching away. Not professional as in a professional writer. Professional in the sense that I’m actually writing the most important legal document in the history of time, and my penmanship makes men and women weep with joy. Yes, my mind wanders. Even when I’m writing. What’s more, my penmanship is terrible. it ranges somewhere between needing Rosetta Stone, and a thumbless palsy victim. And, on top of that, I think faster than I can write. So, because I prefer gel ink pens, every letter, or every sentence, of every paragraph, is usually connected by a thin line of ink, left there because I don’t lift the pen up high enough while my hand scrambles to keep up with my head.

While I’m writing, the scrawling, reject cursive that is my handwriting looks kinda sweet. Like I’ve created my own form of awesome calligraphy. But later, when I finish the thought I’m working on, and read back over the typography equivalent of New Coke, I sometimes question my decision to, once again, write instead of type.

Actually, in a way, my handwriting acts as an anti-theft. If anyone were to somehow get a hold of my pages in a less than amicable manner (for whatever reason. Maybe a homeless person needed to line their coats) they would probably be able to understand every fifth word, and that estimate is sketchy at best. Sometimes, I write as wildly as i can while still remaining the sole being who can comprehend the words. In doing this, I think I’ve invented at least eight new letters and what looks to be a shorthand version of “nutmeg”. Why? no idea. The scratchy sound of the pen probably plays a big part. Maybe I was a monk in a previous life, and I’m rebelling against my rigid, bible copying specific penmanship by channeling pure mind gibberish through my fingertips.

Regardless of the reason, all of this contemplation is just a lead up to another thought I had: Do ideas somehow suffer because of their mode of transmission from mind to paper, or a keyboard? Does actually “writing” one’s thoughts inject the ink with life, feeling, and emotion that is just not possible to achieve through typing? Or is it purely a matter of preference?

Personally, I believe that artistry that one has over his or her ideas doesn’t care about the means of delivery. i feel that a writer can just as easily pour his or her soul into worlds that are typed, compared to words that have been physically written. In fact, I’d say that the only advantage “writing” has over typing the amount of time and effort that goes into the creation. I know, this doesn’t seem like an advantage, but if you find yourself in a slump, or staring at the hideous face of writer’s block, the knowledge of how big your stack of “finished” pages is may keep you going just long enough to pull yourself out of the doldrums. I find typing to be both easier and more expedient than writing. But, by writing, I create each and every pen stroke, letter, line, scribble, cross out, and smudge on that paper. The writing almost becomes a map of the entire process. One can see when and where the writer paused to think. Where ideas were born, grew, changed, and died. Where the writer became frustrated and tore the paper to pieces, and then where they used tape to bring all those pieces back together. Again, in terms of the content and quality of the ideas that are created, writing has no advantage over typing, and vice versa. But, “writing” can be more personal to the writer, which might allow the author to more aggressively push to the finish. If you have a crumpled stack of ink stained pages, and throbbing, calloused fingers to boot, you might just finish your story if only to justify the personal hell you’ve damned your fingers to.  What do you think?

-Paul

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