Monday, August 25, 2014

Longhand vs. Keyboarding?

Well, I had this post almost ready to go and was congratulating myself for being Ms. Prepared when – BAM! – I perused the brilliance that was April’s Friday post. I mean, poems and EVERYTHING. Color me deflated. Who wants to follow that? But here I am, up to bat. So….

Do I scrawl sentence fragments on a legal pad? Yes. Or more often on a napkin, grocery list, or the palm of my hand.

                                        Back of a recent grocery list. Hey, at least I can read this one!

Sometimes, if I’m driving, I’ll dictate a sudden insight into my iphone. And, as I’m sure I’ve mentioned before, sticky notes litter my desk like pastel snowdrifts more often than not.

But write an entire story in longhand? Nope. Not me. Oh, I’ve imagined it:  I’m sitting straight-backed in a wicker chair, dressed like Emily Dickinson, pouring my musings into a lovely cloth-bound notebook. Everything I write is profound and poetic. A soulful sigh escapes me every now and then as I squint at the ceiling, gathering my thoughts…

I do occasionally give it a shot (minus the all-white clothes). But, like Laura, my hand can’t keep up with my brain. The quality of my handwriting steadily declines until even I can’t decipher it. Plus I’m always, ALWAYS revising as I’m storybuilding, and seeing a page of crossed-out words/lines/paragraphs makes the smarmy internal editor (S.I.E.) sitting on my shoulder shake her head and tsk at my ineptitude.

It’s impresses me greatly to read about authors who write their stories longhand, then transfer them to their computers. That’s something I cannot even imagine. Give me a computer any day, as S.I.E. and I are happiest with greased-lightning keys and a handy-dandy Delete button.

Happy writing!

Jill Esbaum


April Halprin Wayland said...

And I, Jill, am ALWAYS caught in the delicious swirl of your conversational-style writing...whether it's composed on your iphone or scrawled on that paper...don't stop, your voice is golden!

Esther Hershenhorn said...

I so love learning how my fellow TA's commit their words to the page.
And now that my laptop and I have successfully reunited, thanks to those who responded to my last Monday's post.
Oh, and Katie Davis deserves credit for my qualifying p.s. - sry 4 eny typoze= I stole it without her permission.

dorothia said...

Perfectly hilarious! Love reading your posts.
And your books... of course.

Jill said...

April, thanks. Back at ya.
Esther, whew. Glad your laptop is home from the hospital!
Dorothia, you're a sweetheart. :) said...

This series of posts has been so much fun to read. I prefer the keyboard for sure. It's so much faster to get my ideas down before they slip away.
I will jot notes on any sort of paper available or dictate into my iPhone if I'm out walking or don't have paper.
But when jotting, I want a pencil. I will pass six pens in my house while repeating a line just to find a pencil. Basically, I love lead. But NOT dull lead! So, it needs to be a mechanical pencil, preferably with a cushioned grip!
What can I say? Penny is picky about her pencils!

Carmela Martino said...

Picturing you in all white ala Emily Dickinson cracked me up, Jill. And I think you're the first TA to mention dictation as a writing method, so you've expanded the options I originally considered!
And Penny, love your comment:
"Penny is picky about her pencils!"

Jill said...

Oh, Penny, you made me snort my V-8 at the picture of you hurrying past pens to find the exactly-right pencil.
Marti, glad you liked it. :)

jan godown annino said...

What April said!

Plus, Jill I'm so relieved so spoke about less-than-lovely handwriting.

I enjoy taking hand notes better than any other method of note-keeping, but my scribble, on deadline would make an M.D. proud! I have to go over them right away after a talk I've listened to & redo them in hand-print.
For a phone message or anything like that at the get-go I have to hand-print. And I love pencils, pens, crayons, colored pencils. Something about the hand moving smoothly across a great variety of papers. I love paper too much, too, I guess.
My leisure note-taking is my best when reading a book or in the library or taking notes from the internet & I can take time to hand-print & underline, make boxes, swirls around the notes etc.
As for composing in longhand, I would have said no way but once when I had eye surgery & couldn't bear a computer screen, I created an entire picture book of poems riffing on hats in longhand. Not saying they are anything more than fun, but it made me feel so good to still be writing.

I didn't know about the computer separation for EH & as I think my cranky one is headed that way, I can imagine what a weird time that was.

As usual, I'v written too much!
It's always cool to visit with the TAs.

Jill said...

I'm GLAD you wrote a long note, Jan! Helps me get to know you better. :)

I know exactly what you mean about transcribing notes immediately. Otherwise, they're pretty much lost to me. I've always wondered what my most-rushed scribbles would say about me to a capable handwriting analyst ....