Posts tagged with "paper" - Faerye Net 2011-03-16T11:33:22+00:00 Felicity Shoulders Why longhand? 2011-03-16T11:33:22+00:00 2011-03-16T11:40:17+00:00 <p>Here&#8217;s yet another of those topics I&#8217;d have sworn I&#8217;d already covered here, but apparently I have not.</p> <center><a href="" title="Longhand by Felicity Shoulders, on Flickr"><img src="" width="180" height="240" alt="Longhand" border="0" /></a></center> <p>The other day I finished writing a longhand draft (126 pages, not pictured) of a long novelette. The problem that then confronted me was that I had to get the thing typed into the computer in time to send it to my critique group in only a couple of days (in case you were wondering why I hadn&#8217;t blogged recently!) I posted about this challenge on Facebook and <a href="!/faerye/status/46833518147416064" target="links">Twitter</a>, and one of the responses on Facebook was: &#8220;You can do it, but why would you write in longhand to begin with? Embrace the 21st century!&#8221;</p> <p>Which is how I ended up discovering I don&#8217;t have a blog post about this to which I can direct people when they ask, because they do ask. I have <a href="" target="links">mentioned my process obliquely</a> but never written up the defense I&#8217;ve had to give verbally many times.</p> <h3>Why I write longhand first drafts</h3> <p><strong>1. Transcription is revision</strong>: When I transcribe a finished draft into the computer, I don&#8217;t type it exactly as I wrote it. It is no more effort to type different words than it is to write the same ones &#8212; and less if I can make the sentence smaller (which usually means clearer and more efficient). When I transcribe a story, I reconsider <em>every single word</em> in a way I simply don&#8217;t when reading a typed document. This is by far the most important reason I write longhand. The draft that goes in the computer &#8212; the first one anyone else can read (given how my handwriting gets when I&#8217;m in a hurry, quite literally) &#8212; is lightyears better than the handwritten draft that no one sees. Rewriting the entire story, starting at the beginning, with the end freshly in mind allows me to grasp the story as a whole and helps me improve continuity, too.</p> <p><strong>2. Process</strong>: A related point. When I&#8217;m writing a rough draft, I don&#8217;t always know what the characters&#8217; names are, or what precise order things should follow. Rekeying the entire story means I can easily replace the placeholder names (or epithets) on the fly. More importantly, while I&#8217;m writing, if I think of something I should have written in a scene ago, or decide to move something, I can note it quickly with a marginal note &#8212; &#8220;add desc of room&#8221; or &#8220;move after reveal&#8221; &#8212; without losing the forward momentum of composition. My bookmark or thumb is still holding the current page, I didn&#8217;t have to do the copy-paste to move the stuff, make sure it was tidy and unrepetitious, and completely lose my creative place. Writing longhand has a great forward flow.</p> <p><strong>3. Distraction reduction</strong>: My <a href="" target="links">favorite notebooks</a>, by Clairefontaine, have many fine qualities, but they don&#8217;t have an internet connection. It is less easy for me to be pulled out of that forward flow by a communication or my own fidgetiness. Even more importantly, for a person as easily drawn into small and often non-germane research topics, it means it&#8217;s not easy for me to open a tab and start doing lots of searching and reading about something that doesn&#8217;t really matter to the story. I can just scrawl a &#8220;[?]&#8221; or &#8220;[check]&#8221; or &#8220;[did they already have this in 1919?]&#8221; and keep going. When I transcribe, that&#8217;s when I get fiddly and detail-oriented &#8212; a much better fit for a revising mindset than it is for a composing one.</p> <p><strong>4. Portability</strong>: My beloved Clairefontaines are under 7 inches by 9 inches. Even my smallest messenger bag can fit more than one of these puppies. So when I&#8217;m waiting for my Chinese takeout, early for a lunch date (don&#8217;t laugh, that&#8217;s happened), proctoring a test in my capacity as an occasional substitute teacher, or on a long drive with <a href="" target="links">Ryan</a>, I can whip this out and be working on a draft &#8212; with full access to what came before &#8212; in moments.</p> <p><strong>5. Psychology</strong>: I come from at least one line of <em>makers</em>. My paternal grandpa could build a house. My paternal grandma could renovate a hotel to period-accuracy, make beautiful furniture, and sew entire wardrobes including wool coats and formalwear. Between them, they taught me to cook, tole-paint, make model airplanes and build a remarkably sturdy footstool (still in use, albeit at my parents&#8217; house. I want that back!) Much as my psychology is keyed to celebrate upon <em>finishing</em> things, it&#8217;s even more satisfying to be able to hold up a physical finished item and rejoice. When I finish a first draft, I like to pinch the silk-smooth french-ruled sheets of paper together and look at their thickness. Look at all those pages of words. I made that.</p> <center><a href="" title="My writing notebook stack as of 2010 by Felicity Shoulders, on Flickr"><img src="" width="180" height="240" alt="My writing notebook stack as of 2010 -- now higher" border="0" /></a></center> <h3>So what?</h3> <p>I have no idea if this will convince those of you who think I&#8217;m ridiculous to write longhand that I know what I&#8217;m doing. There are lots of other ways to deal with these problems or accomplish these goals &#8212; this just happens to be mine. The bottom line is that I believe I produce <em>better fiction</em> writing this way. If you read my stuff, you should appreciate that!</p> <p>You&#8217;ll notice, however, that I have written this post in the first person. I do <em>not</em> believe there&#8217;s One True Way to write fiction or anything else. I believe much of the journey of writing is learning (and gaming) yourself and your process. I would never tell anyone else they needed to write longhand (although I might list it as among possible exercises should they need a lot of process shake-up). I would never promise that I&#8217;ll always write this way. Writing &#8212; which is to say, learning to write, as they&#8217;re the same thing &#8212; is a process of growth and change.</p> <p>What do you do in your writing, crafting or artistic process that might seem odd to someone else?</p> Useless crowing 2008-09-17T11:39:15+00:00 2008-09-17T11:40:16+00:00 <p>You cannot say you were not warned. Last night, in the process of executing my day&#8217;s <a href="" target="links">4 pages of novel</a>, I finished my <a href="" target="links">current writing notebook</a> and started a new one. (not Clairefontaine this time &#8212; I&#8217;m trying to use up the other blank books I have sitting around. If anyone actually cares why Clairefontaine is my paper product of choice, even compared with {new notebook} the wildly popular Moleskine, I would be more than happy to blog about that.)</p> <p>The reason this transition is <em>almost</em> interesting enough to warrant your attention is that I started this new notebook August 14th. One month and two days to get through 192 pages, and they aren&#8217;t exactly mingy tiny pages either. I am massively proud of this productivity, and on top of it, September 16 marked one month without break of the 500 words a day project. I actually kept a resolution for a whole month! About something other than flossing!</p> <p>Now I guess I&#8217;d better go recalibrate and figure out how many pages in a Moleskine is 500 typed&#8230;.</p> Paper progress 2008-08-26T11:26:58+00:00 2008-08-26T11:26:58+00:00 <p>I&#8217;ve been meaning to take this photo since I graduated in June:</p> <center><a href="" title="writing notebooks by Eilonwy Anne, on Flickr"><img src="" width="500" height="404" alt="writing notebooks" border="0" /></a></center> <p>I admit, this may require explanation. These are my writing notebooks. Almost all of my fiction is written longhand in the first draft (though if I get stuck at the end I start typing it in &mdash; which may explain weak endings on a lot of second drafts!) and my medium of choice is the <a href="" target="links">French-ruled Clairefontaine notebook</a>. This pile contains writing from July 1998 to yesterday, and the strip of blue batik marks the span of grad school.</p> <p>This is my way of communicating what an effect grad school has had on me, on my productivity alone. In the two years and a bit between June 10, 2006 and June 28, 2008, just my longhand compositions fill 346 pages. In school, 173 pages of rough a year, instead of the (hmm, hmm, carry the 2) 79 pages a year I averaged 1998-2006 (much of it <span class="caps">RPG</span> backstory and in-character journal.)</p> <p>This is just one way to measure. It doesn&#8217;t count the things I type as a first draft &mdash; much of Faerye Net falls in that category &mdash; or tell you how much of that raw material I used in subsequent drafts. But it does tell you how profoundly grad school transformed my habits. It forced me to think of myself as a writer.</p> <p><em><font size="1">Let&#8217;s see, since June 28 I&#8217;ve used 123 pages, divide by 2, multiply by 12, 720 pages a year&#8230;apparently being done with grad school has been good for productivity as well. Except 60 of those pages are in the last two weeks&#8230;I&#8217;m tempted to make a graph.</font></em></p> Greeting Cards 2008-02-08T09:07:10+00:00 2008-05-25T20:09:22+00:00 <p>I&#8217;m hardly the first to note the many failures of the greeting card market. If I were, we wouldn&#8217;t have <a href="" target="links">someecards</a> to amuse us. However, I think it&#8217;s worth noting my frustrations.</p> <p>I am a person who writes a fair number of letters. Fewer than was the case when I rode the bus to work, or was regularly 5-10 minutes early to classes. However, I still write a few. To me, the physical artefact of a letter still means something. So I like noting events with cards. However, I like, you know, writing in them. Which means, of course, that my first problem with cards is not uncommon:<br /><b>1. Dear cardmakers, shut the heck up (and cool it with the lace.)</b> Since the mid-90s or so, the market has opened up such that cards which are simple in wording (&#8220;Happy Birthday!&#8221; &#8220;Congrats!&#8221;) do exist, and cards with more attractive aesthetics than &#8220;a doily on every square inch&#8221; also exist. However, they don&#8217;t prevail, and they&#8217;re not the default. If you&#8217;re browsing a small collection, or in a hurry, good luck<sup><a href="#fn1">1</a></sup>.</p> <p><b>2. Check your social assumptions if you want to make money</b>. Now, I&#8217;ve heard rumors that Hallmark has started making same-sex marriage congrats cards, but I haven&#8217;t seen them. And the assumptions go deeper than that. To put it coarsely, 80% of the marriage cards in the market cause unbearable cognitive dissonance in the mind of a <em>divorced</em> prospective purchaser. Even those who do heed #1 and keep themselves to a sentence tend to drip with Patriarchal and romance-cultic assumptions I find toxic. And let&#8217;s not even get into gendered birthday cards. You don&#8217;t have to make actively pinko feminist cards to please me. You just need to have options. They&#8217;ll sell.</p> <p>Related to both previous points, <b>3. Stock a greater variety of card messages</b>. I was recently at a gift shop, trying to pick up a Congrats card for a friend who won an amazingly huge poetry prize Of Awesomeness. 65% Birthday cards (of which 50% specify the relationship on the cover, for Extra Glurge and Extra Not Actually Requiring Effort), 10% Wedding, 10% Wedding Anniversary, 10% Baby, 3% Sympathy (all ugly as sin, and glurgey), and 2% Get Well Soon. I could have used a birthday card for a specific, non-pooky friend (that, I found.) <span class="caps">I WANTED</span> a congrats card. I could have used sympathy and get-well cards to replenish my supplies at home. But I bought none, because they had such a paucity that overwordiness and aesthetic horror were almost a given. Look, I know birthdays are the most common card occasion. But would it kill you to have one fewer rack of them? Maybe knock out the fourth &#8216;grandson&#8217; title, and put a freakin&#8217; congrats card?</p><p> The reason I think this relates to #2 is simple: demographics. A lot of my friends are writers. Most of those, and a huge segment of those remaining, are grad students. They are in a part of their life where they&#8217;re accomplishing great things. Many of them already have families, or aren&#8217;t going to have families for a while&#8212;baby cards need not apply. Many of them are already married, or aren&#8217;t getting married until they&#8217;re <span class="caps">NEVER</span>. Things I want to send cards about include graduating from grad school, getting nursing licenses, winning poetry prizes, having books published. Yeah, I can just write a letter, but having my friend open the envelope and see a big pretty &#8220;Congratulations!&#8221; rendered far more artistically than I can manage is <em>fun</em>. I&#8217;m sure the card industry, like every damn industry based on paper and post, is worried about the future. Well, I&#8217;m the future. I don&#8217;t look like June Cleaver and I don&#8217;t want to send the cards she did. Figure it out.</p> <p id="fn1"><sup>1</sup> One great brand seems to be <a href="" target="links">Recycled Paper Greetings</a> which sadly has no working &#8220;where to get &#8216;em&#8221; software on their website. They offer, however, artists like <a href="" target="links">Masha D&#8217;yans</a>, who watercolors vibrant, whimsical cards that don&#8217;t have a lot of palaver. And whose site links to two online shops that carry her line. If only she had more congrats cards, this whole rant would disappear in a puff of logic.</p>