Two

I want to talk a little about method, as opposed to madness.

I’m writing longhand in a grid-lined Clairefontaine notebook with a fountain pen. The notebook, using both sides, has 224 pages. I average 300 words a page. Trust me. I counted. A full notebook holds 67,200 of my words.

If longhand seems counter productive, here’s the reasoning. I can type as fast as I think. Years of keyboarding have left me without a gap. My word processing skills aren’t error free, but they are speedy. My brain. Not so much. I sit and stare a lot, waiting for my thoughts to catch up with my fingers. Typing makes the rough draft mostly dialog. Which would be good, if I were a scriptwriter. But I write novels, and context gets lost somewhere between my frontal lobes and my inner ears.

The poet, Pablo Neruda, composed in longhand. He said:

Ever since I had an accident in which I broke a finger and couldn’t use the typewriter for a few months, I have followed the custom of my youth and gone back to writing by hand. I discovered when my finger was better and I could type again that my poetry when written by hand was more sensitive; its plastic forms could change more easily. In an interview, Robert Graves says that in order to think one should have as little as possible around that is not handmade. He could have added that poetry ought to be written by hand. The typewriter separated me from a deeper intimacy with poetry, and my hand brought me closer to that intimacy again.

This month, the blog is only thing I’m keyboarding. So far, I haven’t been tempted to go back and fill in the blanks. I’ve moved from one scene to another. It will be hell, no doubt, when I have to transpose this manuscript, but like Scarlet O’Hara, I’ll think about that tomorrow–or December 1.

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