Written in Stone?

July 9, 2012

Like most of the writers I know, I started writing when I was a little girl…okay, some of you were little boys, but the point really is that in general a passion for writing starts at an early age.  When I was young I would sharpen my pencils and write; poetry in steno book and short stories on yellow legal pads. I always wrote in pencil. If I wrote in pencil I could erase when I edited, and no one would see the mistakes. So my pages were smudged with all of my editing and rewriting, and I had a million half used pencils with erasers rubbed down to the metal rim. I was a perfectionist, and I wanted to look at my work as though it were perfect from the beginning.

But, as I got older, (well into my twenties!) I looked back on all of those pages…some fading and so greatly smudged they were hard to read, many the handwritten originals gone because I only kept my perfect (okay, sometimes not so perfect) typed versions…and I wished I’d used pen so that I could see the evolution of my work. I learned it was okay to cross things out, write between the lines and in the margins. I learned that I liked to see what I started with…sometimes what I started with was better, and I learned that I liked seeing what I was capable of doing with my raw work.

So I began to write with ten-cent blue pens, which were probably like two cents back then! I think I switched to spiral notebooks when the boys started school, and I would stock up on spiral notebooks at the beginning of the school year when they went on sale so cheap. I always had a good supply available or at least started with a good supply. There may have been times during the school year when a boy would look in the closet for a new notebook…and uh mom had used them all. (Sorry boys.)

Anyway, you all know that I write my draft by hand, but even after I type my work, I edit by hand on a hard copy that I’ve hole punched and put into a notebook, and keep plenty of lined notebook paper for adding new passages that get inserted into the notebook…which I save…then I retype my revisions and reprint (did I mention I save the new draft on the computer in an entirely different file so that I don’t lose my old draft?) I know, I’m killing a lot of trees (and using a lot of space on my hard drive) and writing a lot of run-on sentences this way, and  it wasn’t so bad with 2,000-word articles, but with a novel…. Maybe I’ll have to get rid of some of this paper, but I like seeing the evolution of my story.

I like it a lot.

So, I no longer write with a chisel in stone. I’ve graduated to blue pens and spiral notebooks, and I’m working my way up to computers…and even coffee houses, and I’m sure that when I learn to write comments and cross things out in Word…yes, I am aware that this is possible…technology will have advanced to a new level that I will initially resist, but maybe by then I’ll be drinking coffee and it won’t matter.

So how do you write? Do you save your original drafts? Do you like to see your edits? Do you use the computer, blue pens, or a chisel and stone? Heck I’d love to know… AM I THE ONLY ONE OUT THERE WHO STILL KEEPS HARD COPIES?

I apologize right now to Save the Trees, and I may lose my California citizenship for admitting to the environmental damage I’ve caused, but I promise to plant a tree for each book I sell…don’t let me forget.



2 Responses to “Written in Stone?”

  1. Miss Alexandrina Says:

    I do this, too. A LOT. Because I don’t have constant access to a computer, I feel I need to write first drafts on paper- plus, it makes the first draft feel more special to me. My hard copies are in their notebooks under my bed.
    At the moment, I’m rewriting a novella from years ago, and, as well as keeping the old Word file saved differently, I’m rewriting the new chapters under the old chapters, in purple-coloured font. I don’t really have a reason; I guess I just don’t want to miss out old details.

  2. taristhread Says:

    Miss Alexandrina…I love that!! See, I need to be more creative in the way I save my files!!

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