Sometimes we have to compromise.

This morning Farzana Doctor posted a link on Facebook and Twitter to Sarah Selecky’s September 8 blog entry entitled “Stop typing before it’s too late.” Sarah expressed very eloquently the sentiments I have always held about writing (at least the first draft) by hand. I love writing by hand. It does help my creative juices flow. It is a sensuous experience, if you take the time to let it be.

Time is the operative word.

When I was writing my first novel, Red Rover, I had all the time in the world. I had no deadlines, no one waiting to see a draft. Until I finished the first draft, I wasn’t even sure there was a plot, let alone a book that might be published. It was a wonderful time of experimentation. I still have all the notebooks full of chapters, some written hastily in pencil, some written with painstaking care in fountain pen.

Then reality struck.

With the publication of that first novel (obviously the first in a series) came the expectation of the second book within a reasonable time period, preferably a year or a year and a half. That meant that instead of writing sporadically for five or six years to produce a draft, I had to churn one out in six or eight months. I attempted the task in my usual manner, by hand. It seemed the obvious method, especially since most of the developing draft was written during break times or stolen moments at paying jobs.

This caused a problem.

There I was with an almost complete hand-written first draft, when my publisher began asking to see it. Admittedly I did a fair bit of revising, when I transferred it to the computer, but the result of that whole process was missing the opportunity for fall publication. Yes, it will be published next spring, so it’s not a big deal, but I did learn something from the experience.

Sometimes we have to compromise.

My netbook.

Although I would still prefer to write my complete first draft by hand, it’s not practical. Not when I have to adhere to deadlines. Not when I admittedly spend very little of my life actually writing. So …  I have taken the plunge. The first thing I did was to agree that on screen editing and revising of book #2 was the way to go. The second thing I did was to purchase a netbook. I already have a desktop (my computer of choice) and a really good laptop, but the laptop is prohibitively heavy.

So far so good.

Last week I took my new netbook with me to a paying job. It did the trick. I managed to get a decent amount written on book #3. Yes, I do miss the process of writing by hand, but I know that in the long run, it will be worth it. The time I save by putting the series directly onto a computer can be used to handwrite something else. I’m guessing that the something else will come from the heart, not just the head.

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  1. yes – sometimes its quicker – I keep my notebooks (plural and colour co-ordinated!) for righting little drafts on the hoof so to speak – or notes for blogs – is good to write by hand


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