I’ve been buying a fair bit of stationary this last few weeks. Folders, notebooks. I’ve even ordered a space pen to allow me to write more comfortably while sprawled on the sofa. This recent post from Icy Sedgwick got me thinking about what was driving all this impulse buying.
The last few weeks, when I have had a block of time, I have disappeared off to the local library with my macbook and writing. I haven’t bothered to get a voucher for the wireless internet there and have found myself freed up to write without the lure of twitter or email or the dreaded facebook (which some of you will realise I have recently begun to embrace, albeit a wary, one-eye-open-in-case-of-sudden-violence type of embrace).
My last visit, last Saturday morning saw me draft an entire short story over a two hour period. The words just rattled out. I stopped for coffee at the library coffee shop and read a bit of Lorrie Moore. That was my only distraction from the work, apart from trawling the English book shelves and finding a Miranda July collection for my short story challenge. I can see me doing this more over the next few weeks, and when I can after our new baby arrives. While the library isn’t a silent space, the hushed voices all being in German is strangely relaxing, I can zone out foreign languages it seems, where I am intensely sensitive to English speaking voices.
I think the buying of stationary is to help me prepare to do this in the home. I can take a folder off to the garden, or upstairs away from the kids if i have a free half an hour. And you can’t get internet on a A4 writing pad. Not yet anyway. I’ll be honest, the space pen is for the gadget addict in me. Cheaper than buying an iPad and probably better for producing meaningful writing than the cut down Pages app on the iPad. I have even printed off hard copies of all my current work and all my short fiction so I can haul that folder about to mark up drafts at a moments notice. I won’t be abandoning my macbook just yet, but I will be making more use of old tech.
On a related note, I have been thinking about buying a typewriter for a while now. I had an old portable manual back in my late teens and early twenties that I took every where and blasted out everything from degree assignments to comics scripts on. Problem is I’d like one of these. As you can see the price makes it a bit more than an impulse buy. That said, it’ll probably produce a document with fewer layout errors than the iPad Pages apps if the reviews are to be believed.
In the meantime, I’ve installed Typewriter Keyboard on my macbook, and have been writing with it on all day. It has been many years since the clack clack of keys has accompanied my writing, but I have found the sound strangely productive. Like my fingers are once again driving a machine rather than a piece of software. Each tap tap tap brings me that much closer to completing whatever it is I am writing. The sound drives me on with an almost locomotive percussion. Next best thing to the real thing and nowhere near as expensive.
How about you? What stationary fetishes do you harbour? How do you escape the clutches of modern technology?
8 Responses to Physical stationery and virtual typewriters
I should do more of this… except that my (always terrible) handwriting has now devolved to such a state that I often find it hard to read my own written notes… which is even more frustrating than wasting hours of writing time on the internet.
I sit outside on the patio with a yellow legal pad and a pencil. I’ve found that when I type what I’ve written onto the computer it’s like a second draft – I’m catching word errors and cadence problems as I transfer it.
@Rol – I’ve found using fountain pens improves my handwriting as I have to write slower, also helps as there is time to think and be more deliberate.
@Laura – I find exactly the same thing when I type up what I hand write. Transcribing my notes becomes a second draft. I don’t like writing with pencils though. Not sure why, just doesn’t feel permanent enough perhaps.
Ha ha, thanks for the shout out!
It’s funny, I actually find I do a lot more writing with a pen and paper. I mean, if inspiration strikes while I’m on the tube, I have no choice! Experience has taught me to always carry a notebook and something to write with, and for some weird reason I gravitate towards pencil. But you’re right – I can’t be distracted by anything online if I’m a) on the Underground and thus can’t even use the Internet on my phone and b) writing by hand.
But you have inspired me to check the prices of secondhand typewriters. There’s something about the noises and the inability to cut and paste which I really love…
If you find anywhere with reasonably priced typewriters, let me know. 🙂
I use a mechanical pencil because I can’t turn off my inner editor and deplore scratch-outs with a pen. 🙂 Must have eraser…
I am having typewriter envy. I have a photo of me, aged four clacking away at the typewriter at Kindy. So I’m not sure if writing was originally inspired by the experience of typewriting, or by the experience of writing?
I scribbled out the first draft of ‘Pearls’ in The Three Monkeys back in January while Dave and Dylan were camping. It was my second attempt at a day of adventure (thus left the overweight laptop at home) and found it a really freeing experience to sit with my book and my fountain pen.
With the renovations which have been going on next door for three months, I’ve had to get creative in finding places to write. Borders is my favourite. They have powerpoints, I stick in my earphones – though it is generally quiet. Getting the iPhone was a distraction, because prior to that I’d had no internet connection outside of home (or Annie’s!)
There is a real back to basics theme happening at the moment – so I’ve noticed.
And I’m wondering now – what would it be like to write a short story on a type writer (we have an electronic portable one under the stairs???)
I used an electronic portable at when visiting my folks in the mid-nineties, but it wasn’t at all as kinaesthetically pleasing as a manual.
You should download Typewriter Keyboard for your computer and tap tap tap away with that. All the convenience of word processor software with the audio accompaniment of clack clack clackity clack.
Perhaps someone should design and build a computer keyboard that works like a manual typewriter keyboard. That would be a top product.
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