Adrift in The Artist's Studio

Adrift in The Artist's Studio
"More Color! More Color!"

Friday, August 22, 2008


There's a school of thought that says real writing-- we might think of it as Writing-- is done longhand. I guess it goes back to when Truman Capote said of Kerouac's On the Road: "That's not writing, that's typing." Or maybe it goes back even further, when Writing was done with sharpened sticks on slabs of mud, blessed by priests.

I'd like some feedback on this, if anyone is reading this post. When you write, when the original ideas flow, or are finally forced out of you by caffeine or exhaustion, when you write with a capital W-- do you write it down longhand, or do you sit and type it into the word processing program?

As for myself, when I started my current novel, I admit I skipped a step: I used pen and paper. No pencils at all to start, and none since, for that matter. Now, when I feel a new paragraph coming on like a seizure, I go right to the computer.

But for me, true inspiration (and I do believe it exists, both within us and without) requires me to stop whatever I'm doing, reach for a pen, pencil, fragment of pencil lead, hunk of charcoal, anything you can use to write with, and write down whatever words or phrases the muses cause me to vomit forth. In other words, I reach for the pen and paper, get the idea down quick, and worry about form and clean-up later.

Those of you who know what I'm talking about know, too, that writing something down longhand is also tied up in the appearance of handwritten words on a page.

Once, some artist admired the look of his words that he scratched on a cave wall, with a rock or a charred stick, and he smiled because it felt good. He decided he'd do it again, even if the words didn't yet mean anything. He might have been a She, but the point is, that person was a Writer.

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