Monday, November 30, 2009

An Occupational Hazard

Sometimes writing is like juggling, like having apples and oranges in the air at the same time. You start to hear the next story before finishing the one you’re working on. Soon you have three or four going at the same time. ~ From Gravity, Muses Like Moonlight

We tend to forget that writing is a sloppy business. None of us would accept a garage mechanic working in our home, leaving greasy tools all over the place. But, somehow we accept writers working at home who are almost as messy. Many of us have one in our home, or are one.

Not only do writers who work at home make messes, but they are inclined to repeatedly burn pots of food on the stove or ignore a sink full of dishes in order catch their drifting thoughts onto paper. Loose papers get spread out all over the house. Stacks of them pile up, threatening to tip over. Half finished drafts and scraps, some typed, some scribbled, get started and then left, and then maybe lost in translation.

Weren’t computers supposed to save us from drowning in so much paper? My husband was recently trying to talk me into getting a laptop that you handwrite onto. The handwriting is then converted into typed and stored text. I told him I didn’t think I would use it, in the same way I didn’t use the digital recorder he bought me to talk my notes into. I couldn’t get used to playing back notes, re-winding and fast forwarding to find the right place. I’d rather shuffle through my papers, spread them out like a buffet, or like a puzzle I’m putting together, and see all parts of the whole. If I can’t hold the written evidence in my hand, I forget it exists.

“I know it’s messy, but this is the way I write,” I defended myself. I may use a computer more than ever before, but paper is still my first language.

Note: Originally posted on on June 4, 2005.

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