You always hear stories of writers who started out writing in crayon or pencil, in millions of notebooks. The funny thing is, that even though I’ve always been a collector of notebooks, notepads etc, I’ve never been a fan of writing stuff out by hand.
Written by Hand
I don’t know why, but I always have this habit of holding my pen too tight, and now that I have long nails I tend to jab them into my hand. I also seem to have this innate need to write things down quickly, as if I think that if I don’t, I’ll forget what I was going to put. For this reason, exams were a nightmare and I do not miss them!
I’ve also always found my handwriting to be incredibly untidy. Is this a creative trait? I’m not sure, but it has always bothered me how I start writing, and it starts out all neat and tidy and then creativity and the need to get it down takes over, and it turns into a scribbly mess that looks like a small child wrote it.
I remember, before PCs took off, my Mum gave me an old typewriter. I used to absolutely love the clack, clack, clack sound as you hit the keys. And boy, did you have to hit those keys. I remember that they had to be pushed down quickly deep and firmly, otherwise they wouldn’t imprint on the paper. I used to love the way the little bell rang when you got to the end of the line, and had to push the rolly thing (does that have a proper name??) back to start a new line. I remember having to wind the paper through, but did it roll on when you started a new line? Gosh, I can’t remember.
I’ll never forget how frustrating it was, when I finished a page and noticed all the mistakes that I’d made because I hadn’t pushed the keys down hard enough, and then having to sit there dabbing Tippex all over the place. My problem was that I wasn’t patient enough to actually wait for that gloopy stuff to dry, and I always ended up making a complete mess!!
From PC with Love
I think I got my first laptop when I was about ten or eleven. Before you get exasperated, it wasn’t anything flashy or exciting, it was something that my mum bought – cheaply – from work, as they were just going to throw it out. I feel like, during that period, I spent my entire life attached to that laptop.
I had already been writing stories on the family PC, but having a laptop gave me complete freedom to write whenever I wanted, rather than whenever it was my turn on the PC. The funny thing was though, that back in the depths of 1995, there wasn’t so much of a battle to the PC purely because we didn’t have the Internet. And yet, when our family got the internet in 2000/01, my brother and I fought like cat and dog to use this amazing thing, with the added screeching of dial-up!
For me, those early days with a laptop – and eventually a PC that was inherited in the same fashion as the laptop – really embedded my love for typing things up, rather than writing them down on paper. I’ve never had any kind of typing training, but because I started so young, I feel like I’ve pretty much always been a fast typist – which didn’t do unnoticed by some of my classmates, who when I had finished typing something up, some would try to bully me into typing theirs up to….”
For the period when I was growing up, I always feel odd that my childhood wasn’t more writing on paper – as it appears to be for a lot of writers around my age – because even though I did it, I hated it compared to typing. And yet, in 2012, I wonder how many budding eleven-year-old writers actually do write their work down in lots of notebooks? Or do they grow up only typing?