Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Slowing Down to Speed Up


The new work is somewhere between 37,000 and 40,000 words. Hard to tell, these days.
This story's been a real trial. I've had two false starts and multiple 'sudoku moments' before it found its feet.
In the end, I had to slow down to move at any speed at all.
I want to blame the laptop. The bloody thing is quite the window onto the world. It's got the email, minesweeper, various card games and even that interweb the young people do go on about. ;) heckuva lot of ways for a writer to waste time.
Of course, the laptop doesn't *force* me to distraction. I do that all on my own. But putting this nifty gizmo down has been great!
It all started one night. It'd been a busy day at the tattoo shop, and there were still drawings to do for non-needly clients when I got home. By the time I sat down to write, the eyestrain was bad. I was in no mood to stare at a screen, no mood to hear the exhaust fan come on or the processor tick over.
So I picked up pen and paper. The screen resolution on the paper was fantastic, 1200dpi at least! And though the pen was slower than typing, it still wasn't as slow as thinking up what to say, so I was fine there. At the end of the night I had a tidy pile of respectable work in front of me.
And so it began. Three dead pens later, I picked up a 40-odd year old Skater fountain pen for cheap. There's a lovely sensuality to writing with a good fountain pen (not unlike the soft pat and slide of a loaded brush across canvas, but that's another story). And I can refill the pen whenever it runs out.
From time to time I stop and type in what I've written, hence the dubious word count. I do miss the editing tools in Roughdraft, but I'd miss not knowing how this story turns out even more!

9 comments:

avery said...

I, too, have that seemingly uncontrollable urge to click on my mail or the internet icon every six minutes. It does make for a distracted day. Unfortunately, my handwriting is so bad I can barely read it.

In seventh grade a teacher handed back an essay that said, "Please never use cursive again." That was the beginning of the end of my efforts at decent penmanship. Now, it's a train wreck. I need the keys.

Charles Gramlich said...

I have a pen much like that one and when I do write long hand I generally use it. You're getting the work down. That's the important thing. How it gets there doesn't matter.

cs harris said...

Great picture--I might steal the idea in the future! From what I can see, you write your first draft in present tense?

Steve Malley said...

Avery - I can disconnect the internet cable (though it's an act of will), but minesweeper and its friends still wait for me...

Charles - I have a few fountain pens, some of them quite pretty. All are new, none work. That one there is older than me and still writes like a dream. If only I could say the same! :)

Candace - I didn't realize the words would be so legible! That's just a rapid exchange of dialogue, folks talking in the present tense. Even in first draft, I aim for a muscular past tense.

Steve Malley said...

Oh! That little bit at the bottom: That's an editorial note whose parentheses got cut off in the photo. I put those in present tense to avoid confusion for me.

Kate S said...

There's a lovely sensuality to writing with a good fountain pen (not unlike the soft pat and slide of a loaded brush across canvas...)
Oh, I know that feeling. It's why I prefer oils to acrylics. Nothing like that soft, buttery feeling... mmm...

What? Sorry, oh, yeah. Congrats on getting so much done. Impressive. :)

Wayne Allen Sallee said...

Way to go, Steve. All I use are notebooks. I mean, until I have to type the damned thing. I always consider the handwritten version my first draft. Its sad when I encounter a new generation of writers who put all their fiction or poetry efforts in their blog or web page and never realize that they have no existing writing program in their computer.

Susan Miller said...

It's nice to read that a writing machine such as yourself can get sidetracked on trivial pursuits (silly puzzles), although you and I both secretly know that if anyone or anything was to come to our neighborhoods and construct a grid across our yards and road filled with bombs and clues to where the bombs were...we would save the whole place! I don't now 'bout you, but I keep practicing for that moment. Just keeping the skillz sharp for when my special powers are needed!

Shauna Roberts said...

Sounds like a wonderfully sensuous way to write. Alas, it doesn't work for lefties like me (unless we write backwards like Leonardo). Smearing ink all over the page and hand reduces the pleasure considerably.