On handwriting

I spent yesterday drafting, longhand, an idea. Sheila Lamb likes to write by hand, too.

The first draft always begins on paper with ink. Sometimes, the first handwritten words are a line, a sentence, a phrase. Sometimes, a scene. Usually, these words will not be in the final story. But they mark the magical moment where the story began.

I spent almost all of yesterday writing. I woke up at 6:30 am, and other than taking my son to school and a little bit of procrastination in the early afternoon, I wrote by hand with a fountain pen in a spiral bound notebook. 34 pages, mostly single spaced.

I agree with Lamb:

I find ideas flow better from paper to pen. When I handwrite, I write fast. Inspiration can be elusive and I want to get the words on paper without disruption. There is a smooth connection from pen to hand, something that, for me, pencils don’t give. Computers certainly don’t. The pen is, literally, a fluid implement. I favor gel pens (a Pilot G-2).

My drug of choice is not a gel pen, although in grad school I used to go through dozens. Instead, it is a Lamy fountain pen. I have three: black, white, and red. I've had the red one since 2013. I probably picked up the habit before that doing ethnographic research in northern Colombia while writing field notes in small notebooks.

Sheila Lamb is a fiction writer; I'm not. But, like her, I like my pens. Her description of transcription as the first edit, and then restructuring and revising on a laptop match what I do. I've used Scrivener, but I prefer Tinderbox. I go back and forth from screen to the printed page often.

What I wrote out longhand might become an article on New Brunswick one day.

Today, I had meetings all day. In the moments I could find, I edited an article that has been under a revise and resubmit for far too long.