By low tech – I mean I’m writing a novel in long hand using a pencil and a 3 subject spiral notebook. Old school. Ancient technology. Ben Franklin, Shakespeare, even Moses wrote in long hand. These days we introduce computers to infants in their cribs.
Okay, to be honest, I’m not all that low tech because I am using a mechanical pencil, but this creative journey is kites to jets different than my norm. Rarely do I pick up a pen or pencil. Thank you notes are about the only thing I write on paper anymore, and even some of those are accomplished by email. My phone keeps track of shopping lists, coupons, calendar, to do list, reminders, email, banking AND it also works as a communication device!
Picking up a pencil to write a novel was not a decision I made, but rather a condition forced upon me after having a pacemaker installed. For two weeks my left arm was in a sling. I couldn’t lift anything or raise my arm above my waist. The few attempts I made to work at the computer resulted in pain pills and naps. I couldn’t type, but I could write longhand, sitting on the couch with a notebook in my lap. And since I was in the planning stages of a new manuscript, it seemed the perfect time to start a low tech adventure – I’ll write this book in longhand, I said.
In retrospect, it might have been the pain pills who said that. Either way, I was committed.
I had a brand new 3-subject notebook and no memory of what prompted its purchase. Perfect – 3 sections allowed one for heroine, hero and villain (although it turned out to be hero, heroine, and mentor).
Initially, I had a different color of ink for each of my characters. It didn’t take long to realize pencil was a better way to go, even though keeping a pencil sharpener and eraser handy proved inconvenient. And then my own personal hero, having no idea what I was up to and with no prompting, brought me home an awesome mechanical pencil, with plenty of replacement lead and erasers.
The stars were surely aligning for this story. The working title is The Hoarding Heiress. I conceived of this ideal a few months ago, inspired by my love of the PBS show Antiques Roadshow crossed with an advertisement I saw for a show called Hoarders. I discussed the rough ideal with my critique group, and I swear – and they will all back me up on this – a few weeks later a million dollar home went up for sale and pictures quickly went viral because a hoarder lived there and had put the home on the market without clearing anything out. Just like that, pictures of my hoarder’s home fell into my lap.
Writing in pencil slows down the process, but in a good way it turns out. The slower progression of words appearing on the page allows a longer contemplative opportunity to plan the next sentence and capture the feelings and emotions. If I allow my thoughts to get too far ahead of my pencil, I run the risk of losing track and skipping over important details or omitting entire sentences. Longhand, even when peppered with shorthand, forces me to focus on each sentence, one – word – at – a – time.
Creating on a keyboard keeps my fingers flying in a race to keep up with my thoughts. I type over a hundred words a minute so that’s a pretty fast race. There is no time to stop and question or plan – when The Girls start dictating, my job is to hang on and keep up. Which explains why I have so many 1st drafts hidden in my closet. They are good stories, but boy do they need work!
My pace maker has been in place long enough now and I can type and lift my arm again (and shower – OMG; 2 weeks without a shower! Yeah, that’s not one of the things they tell you about before the surgery.) At any rate, if I want to I can now switch back to my norm and continue writing this story on the computer.
Writing on the computer is infinitely more efficient. I’ve gotten really spoiled to being able to instantly look up obscure facts or confirm dates with minimal interruption and no need to insert a placeholder so I can look it up later.
The choice to write with a pencil might have been thrust upon me by circumstances beyond my control, but now that I have a choice, I have consciously made the decision to continue old school. I might have ended up here by accident (or cosmic design!) – but, I’ve discovered here is a good place to be.
Have you written today?
Terri Richison (writing as Terri Rich) lives in Clear Lake City, TX with her husband and a giant Great Dane (giant even by Great Dane standards). She is working on self-publishing women’s fiction and avoiding getting a pie in the face if she doesn’t produce pages for every critique session! PIES OR PAGES! Terri started telling stories almost as soon as she could talk – she learned everything she needed to know about storytelling at her grandmother’s knee. Craft however, is something she is still learning – those damn commas give me nightmares!