Friday, March 5, 2010

The Spontaneous Art of Handwriting

My laptop's adapter went out on me and so I've been without a laptop for a whole week and because of that I've been forced to do my outside writing by hand. Normally that's how I write my first drafts anyway. This is especially so with my fiction. Then after I've revised my first draft to death, and therefore to the p0int where I can no longer squeese in any more revisions because each page is already scrawled over with them, I'll type everything into my computer and save it on my flash drive.

Now, you're probably saying, "In this modern technologically advanced age, with all kinds of electronic devices that you can so quickly write your material with--electronic devices such as desktop computers, laptops (or notebooks), mobile text messaging gadgets, and word processing software--why would you want to go through the labourious pains of writing not only your stories but anything by hand?" You're probably wondering whether I'm some sort of crazed idiot living in the dark ages. Well, yeah, I am living in the dark ages as far as my first drafts go, but I'm no crazed idiot for doing so because I know what I'm doing. I'm doing what I like about writing, which is I am making my mark. When Zorro goes after the bad guys, he makes his mark, which is a "Z" that he slashes into a surface with his sword, hence "The Mark of Zorro." No, I don't ride a horse and chase down bad guys, and then slash an "S" (my first name initial) with a sword on a surface in some hoodlums' hide-out or even on the captured hoodlums' themselves like Zorro does. But I "slash" my mark, or marks more literally speaking, on paper with my ink "sword" (pen) when I go on adventurous quests in my imagination, and so when I write my stories, both fiction and non-fiction. And so I write my initial drafts by hand because my handwriting is exactly that--mine.

Like their signature, a person's handwriting is unique--even if in the most inconspicuous of ways--to anyone else's. So like genuine art, such as a painting, a drawing, or sculpture, or what not, each person's handwriting has its own natural style. The markings come from that particular person and that particular person only. And so, even though most of us don't think about it, the very handwritten characters themselves are art, and therefore are their own calligraphy. In Chinese culture, the handwriting of characters is an art, especially the spontaneous, Zen-influenced ones. In the Middle Ages of the Western and Islamic worlds (and even in much of Islamic culture today) , handwritten characters were made through an artistic, rather than a merely practical, mind state. Therefore in the same way that I like to think of my stories based on my own, more or less, spontaneous ideas as coming from my heart rather than from a literary formula, and therefore from my natural mind state, I want the very printed characters of my work to come from my heart as well.

Many of you are probably saying something like, "Well if you want to make money off of your writing you have to type it or editors won't read it." That's mostly true. If I were to mail off any of my handwritten manuscripts for publication, editors are going to toss them in the waste basket before they even read one word of any of them. But here's my point: I'll write my first drafts and even my first one or two rounds of revisions in them by hand because since doing so is a more spontaneous, more natural act that inspires my creative energy more than typing them into a computer. Since manually writing with pen and paper is more natural in the experience of the act than typing on a computer would be, I feel more like I am doing the creating rather than my computer. And so it's the initial draft stage where writing in this way helps me to get a good start on a writing project and so helps me to complete it good too even if that completion is with the help of a word processor.

Now someone's probably asking "Who the hell is going to see your artistically unique markings on the paper of your first draft?" Mostly myself, the writer, will see them. Because in cases such as writing, I'm going to see my thoughts more clearly and more insightfully if I see the manner that the letters on the paper are handwritten in. In working with my writing this way, I feel like I'm working with my writing rather than the computer's that displays it in digital characters on the screen in a style of font that the machine offers. A machine can only offer so many fonts.

So then why do I use a computer to complete the final stages of my writing? First of all, when the publishers and editors and then the masses after them see it, it will be assured that everybody can read it. Second, the electronic version or the electronically printed version simply looks neater when you send it out for publication. That may be a neatness that is based on consensus. But when you want to speak to the masses as a professional and when you want them to see credibility in you, you will do whatever it takes in the submission stage to get your writing to be taken seriously. A third reason that I use a computer for my writing is that when I write under deadlines, which is mostly the case with my paid non-fiction for certain Websites, I am writing within a more practical circumstance. Therefore in such a case, I'm writing not as much for aesthetic purposes as I am for practical ones and therefore for purposes of bringing in income to pay my expenses.

Now as far as my beautiful, self-styled calligraphy goes, perhaps after my life on this world (or perhaps even after my life on any other world for the matter) my handwritten drafts will be admired so much due to my published works having been so successful, they may get put on display in a museum. Who knows where our writing successes will lead to? Edgar Allen Poe didn't know that his writing would become much more successful than it already had (which was actually very modest) after his death.

Until next week . . . !



Post a Comment

Design by Wordpress Theme | Bloggerized by Free Blogger Templates | free samples without surveys