Friday, September 01, 2017

Writing in Longhand.

Ye olde goode Parker.

Me, my parker and J K Rowling. 

My writing friends and I were talking the other day about writing techniques. Someone asked, incredulously, if anyone was still writing in longhand.

I do, and a few others, older people, said they did.

There is something in longhand writing that opens up the creative corners in your brain. No matter how stressed, depressed or blocked you are, you start scribbling with your old stylo plume, fountain pen, the ink is flowing and glistening on the paper, and then, suddenly, the words start coming out of you and form into phrases, you start concentrating, you can hardly keep up with the train of thought, you cross out, rewrite, write again, and it all stays in front of you and stimulates more and more and more.

I have three Parker pens and several others. One Amercian-made Parker was given to me for my 20th by my father, ages ago, and I still use it. It has a 'Fine' tip that you can only find in specialist shops, in supermarkets it's mostly 'Medium' which I don't like much. The Parker always reminds me of the junior school teacher who was so appalled by my hand-writing that she made me write pages of exercises on what was called 'clean-writing' — чистописание. My handwriting improved but I got into the habit of chewing on the plastic tip of the Parker.

After having had to replace two relatively expensive pens my mother was desperate, and secretly smothered the tip in mustard! It was a shock, but then I rather liked it, so it didn't work. What did work was when my Parker was replaced with a ghastly open-tipped Sheaffer pen. Its wide plastic top wasn't chewable at all, I hated it. And ever since then I have hated open-tipped pens, even Parkers.

Oh well, at least I don't chew my pens anymore.

Just today, a Russian friend on Facebook, a well-known writer, was complaining that some cafes in Moscow are limiting the time you can spend sitting at a table without another order. She got used to using one for working on her laptop and for meetings while waiting to collect children from their activities. One commenter wrote that he couldn't understand people with laptops or ipads in cafes, thought it was just showing off.

Everybody in the thread remembered Hemingway and others, who wrote in cafes. The writer poster also quipped that JK Rowling used to write in an Edinburgh cafe. Yes, she did! I remembered. And she did write in longhand, partly because she couldn't afford a type-writer or a laptop and partly because she liked it. (See here and here.)

iPads or not, should literature survive the cafes must allow people limitlessly to sit and think, and write. Preferably with ink on paper. (Kick out the smartphone users, if you must!)

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