On the Unchained blog I’ve been talking about the Big Thing that passed our way recently and how it compares with the overwhelming scale of a novel in progress. But I also mentioned speed (or lack of) when handling a juggernaut and I think it’s a desire to SLOW DOWN that has brought me to my latest hobby – well after two lessons it’s barely a hobby but I think it might be soon.
Very few people these days write by hand – and I am not one of them. I’ve always said I would never have become a writer if word-processing hadn’t been invented. The mechanisation of writing (from the typewriter onwards) has made it so much easier to put our thoughts on paper or the screen and (crucially) edit and refine them as we go along. With the development of voice recognition programmes, we can now if we wish, ‘be a writer’ without, literally, lifting a finger. By writing we mean the art of composition or storytelling or of choosing the right words, not of putting pen to paper.
As soon as technology is involved, we look for speed of output. Where handwriting would take us minutes to write a page, we are now typing like mad, and I think this somehow makes us think like mad too. With the production of our words made easy, we feel the need to keep up, or think ahead. I can’t help thinking that this thing we call writing must have become a more intense activity than it was when we were limited by the speed at which we could form letters.
I hadn’t consciously thought of any of this until I joined the local U3A (another bonus of passing that big birthday milestone) and looked down the (vast) list of courses on offer. I’m not sure what I thought I was looking for (drama? photography?) but there was one near the top of the list my eye kept returning to.
How amazing would it be to spend some time just making one letter rather than grappling with a cast of characters, their conflicts and desires? An email or two later and I was finding out that I wouldn’t even do whole letters until I had mastered some basic pen-strokes.
I have to say that this is not in the least like writing as I know it or as I am doing now. But it’s a great antidote to bashing the keyboard. Apologies for my beginner’s efforts. I haven’t got to capitals yet!