There’s something satisfying about writing my first draft by hand. Obviously that doesn’t always work. I can’t write a whole novel by hand and it boggles my mind how one must have done it before the typewriter or computer was invented. Obviously it happened otherwise we wouldn’t have Dickens, Austen, or even Homer or Ovid.
But luckily I live in a time when I don’t have to worry about ink stains and sharpening quills to the right width for my preferred writing style. I do suffer from a distraction when my pen ink runs too thin or not fluidly enough, though.
Despite that, sometimes I need to get off this machine and write by hand. It forces me to think in a different way.
Just now I finished the first draft of an article about fashion designer Lucien Matis for PRODUCT. I transcribed our conversation on the computer and printed out the pages as I often do to highlight the good quotes. But then I was struck by a desire to stay off the machine. I wanted to write this story by hand without the usual aids that I turn to when I get stuck. For instance, I’ll often go looking for a detail while I’m mid-sentence or thought so I can finish it completely. But because I wasn’t on the laptop, I couldn’t find that detail just yet and so I had to force myself to rephrase it. And it doesn’t lack anything without the detail, it’s just a detail after all. I can go in and add it in later of course.
Then there’s the quotes as well. For sometime now I’ve been trying not to write and add quotes at the same time because it makes me lose my thought. I’ve begun to see quotes as devices to use as emphasis, not as driving forces for the story, as I used to. It’s been a good exercise and I feel like I’ve gotten better at structuring my thoughts without those pesky quotes flying around me like little butterflies, waiting to land on the paragraph.
The idea of that came to me when I began writing my novel. At the same time I was reviewing a manuscript for a friend and I noticed that his work contained a lot of dialogue. It wasn’t always needed, though. So I began to see dialogue as something I could use for emphasis, not as a driving force. Perhaps I’ll learn later on that it can be used as a driving force. I don’t think there’s only one solution to writing after all. But this was something that came to me most recently.
This whole writing business, now that I’ve embraced my love for it and have stopped fighting against the tide, is a learning process that is constantly giving me new inspiration and creative fodder. I used to see stories in everyday life. I still do! But now I have the confidence to know that I can write something good because I’m learning how to do it. It’s empowering. Galvanizing. Really fucking cool.
I must get back to Lucien. His second draft is waiting.