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Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Would there be Life without Windows?

This is my May offering for Alex Cavanaugh’s Insecure Writer’s Support Group.  To read from other posters, click here

Yesterday, I spent time revising my current writing project.  I had my third draft open, as well as edits and recommendations on my second draft from two amazing (and patient) readers. Page by page I compared, analyzed, cut, moved, clarified and rewrote.  And, while I wouldn’t describe the effort as easy, it was—manageable.  However, at the end of the day, when I clicked the documents closed, I wondered if I’d ever have attempted something as complex and challenging as a novel if technology hadn’t become so helpful.  

About 25 years ago, I thought I’d try and write a book. That hiccup was going to be a memoir, and back then, it meant either typing the thing on a typewriter, (and I was NOT/am NOT an accurate typist) or writing it with a ballpoint.  I picked up a pen and a lined yellow writing tablet, plunked down at the dining room table and completed perhaps 20 pages, before my hand grew permanently tired.

Bringing up this topic dates me.  I am well aware there are folks reading this who may have never seen a typewriter outside of an antique store.  But I do wonder.  If Steve Jobs and Bill Gates hadn’t been so brilliant, would I be plugging through round three of my WIP?  Would I have the perseverance?  Does it make me less of a writer because I’m afraid the answer is “no?”  Not that I wouldn’t write—I know I would. I always have.  But would I try something as challenging as my 88,000 word wonder, if I couldn’t cut from one document, paste to another, take a chunk from Part One and move it to Part Two, or change a complete chapter from one character’s point of view to another—without developing an inoperable case of writer’s cramp?

Trust me.  I won’t lose sleep over this.  But golly gosh, I wonder how people like Jane Austen and Charles Dickens did it.


Mama J said...

We do have it easier these days, don't we?

I'm still (just about) in my twenties and I used to write my stories on my typewriter when I was a teenager!

Elise Fallson said...

I think if Jane Austen or Charles Dickens had computers, they would have used them. (:

jbchicoine said...

Rest assured, Liza, you would write it out if you had to! I'm of the same era you are, and when we have a story we must put to paper, we do it!

My very first completed novel (which will never see the light outside the filing cabinet [yes, a real filing cabinet, not a virtual one]) was hand written and edited. Then, I actually typed it out on a real live typewriter (1987-89)! I have no idea how many words it is--maybe 50-60K? But it never went beyond the first or "second" draft. I can't even imagine doing edits and revisions now, without my computer. It would take 10x as long.

I LOVE technology! :)

Old Kitty said...

I guess people will always find ways to express their creativity with or without technology!

Take care

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Yes, can you imagine typing out a full manuscript again and again? I write by hand now and then, but it all goes into the computer at some point, and thank God!

Johanna Garth said...

There's so much truth to that. I can't even begin to fathom writing out a novel by long hand!

Tonja said...

That's an interesting point. I hand wrote and then typed two essays a week in college. I got really good at getting them close to good on the first draft because I didn't want to spend the time doing edits. Now I spend forever doing edit after edit after edit - it doesn't matter if the first draft is crap or not. I wonder if I would have been a better writer if I just had a typewriter and a pen.

Allison said...

I am very thankful for computers. I can't imagine how Jane Austen and Charles Dickens did it either! Those authors back then were a determined bunch. We probably wouldn't have so many books published now if the computer hadn't been invented.

Allison (Geek Banter)

Mary Sullivan Frasier said...

I believe that writers are compelled to write and I'm sure you'd have found a way to do it Liza, even if computers hadn't come on to the scene. My first was an old manual typewriter and then I inherited an electric. Boy, was I thrilled at the time.

Honestly, it wouldn't surprise me to learn that Austen and Dickens had "people" who frantically wrote their fingers to the bone, as the words flowed. Hmmmm, I think I'm going to have to look that up now.

Thanks for stopping by and filling me in on your "sauce story". Isn't it funny how some people just refuse to share their culinary secrets? I don't understand it myself. Thank God your M-I-L broke that cycle! LOL

Lynda R Young said...

In the early days I used to handwrite everything. A friend who was good at typing transcribed it all for me. lol. Slow and painful. Yay for technology.

Clay said...

I can't even fathom the idea of rewriting a second draft on a type writer let alone creating a handwritten manuscript. Maybe I should give it a try though and see if I go mad :) Thanks for making me see how easy technology makes the process of writing. Cheers

missing moments said...

I know! How did they ever ever do all that writing without word processors????