Scribbler’s Saga #44 – Pens, Keys and Noise

Posted: September 27, 2017 in Uncategorized

© 2017 G.N. Jacobs

I write. I write all kinds of ways. I revert back to typing on a word processor on a regular basis. Sometimes I get whiny about writing with a pen trashing my elbow. Certainly tapping out my next chapter crashed out on my couch with my iPhone (pictures absolutely not forthcoming!) takes twice as long. Editing and retyping typewriter product has seemed a little intimidating nearly all the time, but I do it. And I haven’t wanted to risk the voice transcription error rate for Siri/Dragon. So more often than not I type on my traveling computer, which really streamlines editing to the most painless it’s ever going to be. There, that covers the why of a post bloviating/updating you about my process…whatever pleases me at the moment. 

It’s really weird temporarily joining certain writer subgroups when you bust out certain writing methods for the day; usually this is the pen and paper crowd. I flop into a chair open up the spiral and draw one of my five named fancy pens (I come not in disparagement of pens, but for which to…really? Let me a take a moment to kick the shit out of Shakespeare’s ghost. BAM! CHOP-POW! Where were we?). And I start making words.

I look slightly younger than I am where my few gray hairs have made honorable compact to forego spreading across my head. Maybe my fellow writers from the Gen X/Boomer class are surprised when I bust out a pen, because I don’t always look like them (look close and listen, yeah, I was there in the Stone Age when we all rode saber-tooth tigers, soon to go extinct). They must think I care to hear their anti-youth whines about not learning cursive and a few other pen related topics that just seem like an excuse to bitch that “in my day…” Our day was the metaphorical Neolithic Age and how things are now are way better; you can take my computer when you pry it from my cold dead hands!

Without getting into the advanced class topics of reading cursive or the value of teaching useful archaic skills just in case the power goes out, I’ll keep my frustration to the most basic and common assertion – “Well, I hear that writing with a pen makes stronger connections in the brain and that it is better than writing with a computer.” This assertion also surfaces every now and again in my social media feed. The fake movie lawyer I never really wanted to be is already shouting – “Objection, Your Honor, facts not in evidence!”

No, this is not me pulling an anti-science position (not without scorn, derision and slight regard…excuse me, Zombie-Shakespeare is proving hard to keep dead. POW-POW-BAP-THWAP!). This is just me admitting that I just haven’t made the time to look up (the speakers/posters haven’t cited any articles in my hearing, so they’re not helping), read and digest such information. And why not? The assertion runs contrary to my personal experience.

Giving a child in school a pen and wide-ruled three-hole filler paper may in fact be good educational policy using a Training Wheels Work up to the Computer methodology. I don’t know these things getting them secondhand from teacher friends. And people who do make the effort to wade through such journal articles will develop proper educational policy without old timers waxing nostalgic/craptological.

Once you sell out to your muse (Calliope in my case) as an adult writer, I don’t think the supposed benefits of writing by hand matter. Either you pick a method and make words, or you accept that you were distracted by a mostly boring football game the day before (your distractions will vary). So after years and years of living in my skin as a writer, I just can’t tell the difference between the ears when I slash with a pen or scalpel (horrible made up verb there) with a keyboard. I have been given a sampling of mental health/life coaching counseling over the years, trust me, my state when I write is exactly like my state when I type.

My infrequent bouts of writer’s block (last one in 2009 for 18 months, I was extremely angry) likely wouldn’t have changed at all. Neither does the method seem to change the quality of my words or underlying ideas. I recently invented the draco-bear, a worthy beast to obstruct the way of many a stalwart hero on the road to Mordor or North of the Wall. I used a pen. I typed. The results are the same, a beast likely to burn off the seat of your pants unless you bribe it with salmon.

And yet some of my fellow writers, just love to assert that X way is best. We’re already the weirdest people in the room just admitting with a straight face that we write, that we sit around trying to think shit up in a society where three to six million readers determine what the rest of us will see as movies four years later. If writing with a pen had such a great effect all through my early years in school, the similar effects of cutting to the chase and typing have caught up to handwriting that we either write words or watch football.

I typically nod when I hear this assertion and say nothing. It doesn’t pay to get into the silliness of debating pens, keys or Siri. I’ll do me fighting through at least 1,000 words per day. You do you. And let’s keep writing…the rest is silence (Shakespeare for the win! ARRRRRRRGH!).

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