Bone-heavy handwriting


Why is this so unusual? Every writer has written 'by hand' until relatively recent times. Writing is a consequence of thinking, planning, dreaming -- this is the process that results in 'writing’, rather than the way in which the writing is recorded.

- Joyce Carol Oates

For journalling, I’ve been wondering whether it’s better to type quickly into a file or write slowly on paper.

Apart from how it feels and what it does to my thoughts, I’ve also considered convenience, security and ease of retrieval. I’ve been thinking about these things for a long time, so I decided to ask Ann.

Starting from teenage years, my diaries have travelled with me from house to house. Mixtures of thoughts, shopping lists, drunken ramblings, university brainstorming and ideas for stories, I carried each book with me everywhere, serving both practical and intangible purposes.

Writing is slow. My thoughts race ahead and my hand sometimes cramps up with the getting out of ideas. Slowly the paces match each other like bells synching. After a while I run out of inspiration and write a few trivial sentences before tailing off. Close the book, get off the tram.

In his Quarterly Essay The Happy Life, David Malouf argues that the current Western pace outstrips our human bone-heaviness – we can zip around as quickly as we like, but we have a speed that is set. Handwriting is in keeping with it. I’m not sure if this is true, but it feels like it could be.  

I have digital files all over the place. My typing is fast and it can mostly keep up with my rambling thoughts. I delete bits I don’t like and often the editor and writer are present all at once. That gets messy. I can print and change digital files whenever I like.

Devices sometimes die, however, or I forget the files are there. I have digital files all over the place, in desktop folders with poetic names like ‘Love and clutter’. I discover them every year or so and then forget about them all over again. Will the next time be before the computer emits the Blue Screen of Death?

I forget about the handwritten notes too, but don’t accidentally delete them. They do get lost among bills and photos and books in those Piles Of Paper around the place. But I don’t have to pay monthly storage fees for them and there’s less of a security risk of people reading them. Which, oh god…

To my wonderings, Ann responded, ‘Always always on paper. Soooo many reasons why. Trust me… The fact that you can type faster than you write is one of the main reasons to write … and deleting is too easy, too. Yes… I think we needs a blog about this. X’

May your words pour onto the page,

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