Author’s Note: Credit for this post goes to my beloved husband. He thinks so clearly in the morning (unlike myself) and doesn’t mind answering “Honey what should I write about on my blog today?” before he’s had a shower and breakfast. Thanks sweetheart, I owe you one.
During the football season when Bill is working late or on the road, I often find myself dining alone, and because of this I spend a lot of time writing in public. By writing, I mean finding an inconspicuous place in the Barnes and Noble cafe, Panera Bread or The Black Sheep Deli, pulling out a notebook and putting pen to paper. I look somewhat out of place among the college kids who are attached to their laptops and tablet computers by the invisible umbilical cord that is free wi-fi, but most of the time people hardly notice my old-school approach. If they do, they are either too polite or too stymied by my actions to comment; I never got any comments until last week, anyway. The Wednesday before Thanksgiving, thanks to the brilliance of whoever scheduled a game for the following Friday, my husband had to attend a team dinner. Knowing he’d be eating well, I decided to stop at Panera on my way home from work for a sandwich. As I’ve been trying to participate in BlogHer’s November blog-post-a-day challenge, I took a notepad in with me and scribbled what eventually became the post Solidarity. I didn’t think much about it, but I was using my red Lamy Al-Star and a black Rhodia Dotweb, so my writing looked pretty sharp, even if the words were being less than cooperative. As is the case, when I write I tend to space out while I’m thinking, and sometimes I watch people for inspiration. As I was doing this, my eyes came to rest on a sweet little boy in a wheelchair who was with his grandmother. I quickly looked away out of respect for the boy, but a little while later, after my sandwich was finished and I was still scribbling, his grandmother asked me to watch their stuff while she took him to the bathroom. When she returned she told me “I’m so glad to see someone still using pen and paper like I do.” We chatted briefly about our mutual love of stationery and I reassured her that there are still plenty of analog people out there, committing our hearts to paper. At the expense of sounding like a snob, I have no need to be anything other than an analog creator. For reasons I can’t explain, I just can’t think as well when I type, plus the distractions of the Internet would keep me from getting anything done if I tried to write directly to my blog. Beyond that, the intangibles of writing by hand keep me analog as well. There’s something that is so peaceful about the feeling of my pen gliding across a smooth sheet of paper, and it connects me to the past in a way that typing on a computer screen can’t. The irony of handwriting out everything I post beforehand isn’t lost on me. For a few minutes last week, however, I connected to a complete stranger through the art of writing, and perhaps that is why I am happy to be an old-fashioned analog author.
**Kudos to anyone who loves the movie I stole the title from as much as I do!
One of my co-workers made a scathing comment when I mentioned I had enjoyed an hour one weekend on my own in a coffee shop with the netbook – basically saying that I was only writing to be seen to be writing. I asked him which would be a more valuable use of time; writing, and being creative, or sitting watching junk on television… he conceded the point…
Well I’m not trying to knock those who are digital. I just can’t make myself conform to the digital world. I actually am part of a craft group in my office that meets on Wednesdays at 12:30. When I forgot about it being Wednesday yesterday, one of my less-than-stellar co-workers asked me “didn’t you have your geek squad meeting today?” It took me a minute to realize what she meant and hours to get over it. I think non-creative types are just jealous of those who are creative. Keep writing and I’ll keep reading your blog!
Sometimes paper is easier than electronic gadgets. That being said, I do most of my stuff on the computer simply because it saves time. When I don’t have access to a computer, I use paper. Sometimes that’s the less obvious way to write anyway. In these cases, the written serves as a nice first draft and I can edit as I type it in the computer. I think it’s neat that your use of paper/pen struck up a conversation with a stranger.
Janna the editing as I type is what I do. I wish I could do most of my writing on the computer because somehow that seems so much more efficient but I just can’t. Then again, I don’t have a smartphone and I still have a landline, so maybe I”m just an old fogey at this point. After all, the woman who identified with me appeared to be my mother’s age. Then again, my mom does have a tablet computer and a smartphone. I should have been born in another century I guess;)
Great post, Jen, and kudos to your husband for inspiring you. Although I’ve used a typewriter and then a computer for most of my life (mainly because my handwriting is abominable), a lot of my more creative writing has been done longhand on lined, yellow legal pads (or letter-sized). A whole different style emerges then—looser, more comfortable, more imaginative (or insane, as the case may be). Then I’m without my two most beloved crutches, the dictionary and the thesaurus, and so I can’t get distracted trying to find “the more perfect word”, which usually leads me into several minutes of digressing into completely unrelated, though thoroughly entertaining material, until I’ve quite forgotten what I was originally writing. Also, speaking of digressions, many of the best letters I’ve received have been in longhand from family and friends. I have boxes of these gems stored away like treasure, some of them going all the way back to the late 1950s. So, write on, Jen!
Thanks Steve! I appreciate the support!
Pingback: 2012 Blog of the Year Award | Writer's Block Busters