Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Tools of the Trade

I started writing on my mother's manual typewriter in the 6th grade. I really didn't know what I was doing, having yet to take a typing class in school (that came later), but still, I plucked away, getting my fingers caught and using whiteout as I tried to get the thoughts in my head down on the page.

I also kept writing longhand on my yellow legal pads or just pages of loose leaf notebook paper. I remember getting cramps in my hand, but still kept at it.

When my Dad got a computer, I gladly exchanged the typewriter for the ease of clacking away on a nice keyboard. This was before Windows, though, so it was pretty much green words on a black screen. This made writing easier, and so did the typing class I took in school - on electric typewriters. Old school!

And then, of course, came the miracle of Windows (for the Microsoft users, like we were) sometime when I was in high school along with the ease of word processors. Ah! Black words on a white screen. It was so much easier on the eyes, and I could use the fun formatting techniques.

Around this time, I pretty much abandoned writing longhand. I could simply write faster by typing.

But then after college, I started journaling, and I wrote in longhand. I still journal today using an old-fashioned pen and paper. I love to write in cursive and despite our society's penchant for no longer teaching cursive in schools, I hope it never goes away. There's something organic and beautiful about those loops and curls that our words create.

What were your tools of the trade when you started out? How did they evolve?

18 comments:

  1. Writing novels longhand in spiral bound notebooks or notepaper in a binder was how I started. Oh, how I remember recopying pages when something changed, because you'd have to re-do the whole page. Then an old typewriter. I used to use those little slips of white something-or-other to overtype typos. It would overtype the black letter with white, and then you could re-type the correct letter. Then Liquid paper came along, and you could paint over your letters.

    I balked against computers like you wouldn't believe. First time I lost an entire page of material, I freaked out. "Typewriters only for me!" I declared. At least I didn't lose material. Finally got my first DOS computer, and there really wasn't any looking back.

    However, I LOVED the amber letters on black. Loved it beyond love. It was so easy on my eyes. When Windows came along, I loathed it. Still do, actually. I used to change the screen color and font, but it never worked as well as the DOS version, and there never was a font that showed up well. Still isn't. Still not happy about that. Hee. I do like hitting ctrl-C to get a word count. And I still use an older version of Word. The new one that came out with Windows 7 sucks.

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    1. I used those white slips of whiteout, too, DK. And I remember losing whole pages of my writing, too! How frustrating that was.

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  2. I started out writing on looseleaf notebook paper and stapling it to make a "book". As I got older, I graduated to writing in notebooks. I still write part of my drafts in longhand cursive. It's more freeing without that dreaded cursor blinking at you to hurry up and write something, lol. I hope cursive stays in school. It's a beautiful art form. Must everything lovely give way to basic simplicity?

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    1. Oh I agree. I think we need to keep cursive writing alive. I get so tired of just using a keyboard to write - there's something about holding a pen and feeling the smooth paper beneath your finger tips...

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  3. I have never used a typewriter before but lately I have this urge to buy one and use it!

    I recently took up journaling too. Back in grade school I kept a diary for about a year or two. Looking back and reading it is always fun and I want my children/grandchildren to be able to pick mine up and look through them in the future. Throughout my various researches, I know the value of journaling and how excited I would get to come across one.

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    1. Yes, start journaling!!! :-) It it also an incredible record for your life and can also be VERY therapeutic.

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  4. I didn't start writing seriously until I was 30, so I've been on computers the whole time. Started with an old hand-me-down Compaq -- DOS, green type on black, itty-bitty screen! When I got my first real desktop (my brother built it for me) I still remember some computer store guy telling me I needed more RAM, because Windows was about to come on the market and I wouldn't have enough RAM to handle it and I would be sad. I scoffed, but turns out he was right. :-) Fast-forward to just 2 months ago, when I finally drank the kool-aid and jumped from Windows to Mac.

    Along the way, I've learned WordStar, WordPerfect, and Word. And now, on the Mac, I'm using Scrivener and loving it.

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    1. I haven't drank the kool-aid yet and switched to Macs, though everyone in my department at work has a Mac (well, the graphic artists do - the editors still have the PCs!). YES - green words on a black screen. I can still see it so clearly in my mind.

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  5. As a teen I wrote on an old typewriter and by hand, but when I started writing seriously years later it was on an old clamshell Mac. Now I have a MacBook and I love it. I use the Pages writing package and find it perfect for me.
    I often think of all those novelists from years ago who wrote huge novels by hand ie Jane Austen. Imagine the rewrites for changing just one sentence? It makes me shudder.

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    1. Oh yes - you're so right about the novelists of yesteryear. How much patience it must have taken! I once wanted to try an experiment writing a short story with just a quill pen and ink. I may have to do it just for the experience alone.

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  6. Pencil to start off with, then Basys, Word Perfect and Word... my writing is so appalling I can't read it half the time!

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    1. I always used to edit with a pencil - it couldn't be a red pen or a pen at all - just a pencil. Odd the habits we have!

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  7. A few years ago at a thrift store I found a big old black 3-ring binder with "Property of US Government" printed on the inside front and back covers. That's where I did all of my writing at first (and it seemed a little illicit too, since I was using government property!) I also have a portable Remington Rand from the 30's I'd planned to use for my writing, but now I mostly use my computer-faster and easier on the fingers:)

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    1. I love this, Valerie! "Property of US Government." Yeah, computers are definitely a lot better on the fingers. I have a '40s Remington and when I try to type on it, I fail miserably.

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  8. I was just talking about this with my nephew the other day. I was explaining that when I first started working, I did everything on a typewriter.

    Back when I was teenager, coil notebooks where my best friends.

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    1. It's amazing how this generation will have no knowledge of what a typewriter is - just a keyboard. That blows me away.

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  9. They don't teach cursive in school any more? Sheesh!

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  10. it was Teddy Roosevelt who promoted txt writing! hardly any vowels
    kinda like Hebrew.. I have taught school so I can tell a lot from
    handwriting, it relays personality traits, and ambition. Arnold Palmer was emphatic about signing his autograph, neatly and plainly.

    100 years from now when the Chinese invade this country to collect our debt, we will need to know symbol writings ...


    it is not that not teaching cursive is wrong, it is just another sign that
    America's standards are declining in all areas.

    w a Richardson

    Phoenix , Arizona



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