Writing with pen and paper evokes fond memories (and keeps sand from getting in the computer).

March 26, 2010


Nothing says me writing by hand like a bad stock photo.

I’m writing this on a legal pad. With a pencil no less! That’s right. Since I’m on vacation I wanted to write in the sunshine I paid so dearly to find. Problem is one can’t see a laptop’s screen in broad daylight. I’m sure there are corrective measures for this but I don’t possess any. Besides, who wants sunscreen on their keyboard?

Yes, I’m writing poolside. Please don’t let your understandable contempt for me keep you from reading any further.

First thing I notice is how awful my handwriting has become. Not that it was ever pretty, but it’s doctor-prescription bad now. Oddly, I can still read every word, Weird that. Kind of like a mother who can discern her child’s cry in a sea of children.

Dinosaur alert! I remember when I wrote everything with pen or pencil: journals, poetry, letters, first novel, and yes, ad copy. I used to sit in my favorite bar on my favorite stool and write, write, write. Eventually, a curious woman (I hoped) would sit down beside me and strike up a conversation or, more likely, one of the bar’s other regulars would join me. Either way, I worked until pleasantly distracted. Quite a system I had. I got to do everything I loved simultaneously: writing, drinking and hooking up.

Thankfully, I don’t drink anymore (another story) and marriage precludes hooking up. The writing I continue, obviously, but now, like you, I do so on a computer.

One of the regulars at Max Tavern was another scribe by the name of Ray Pride. Maybe you’ve heard of him. He writes film criticism for New City and other media. He and I would happily wile away the evening hours writing and chatting and drinking –copiously.

Ray was religious about keeping a journal. Even then he’d already amassed countless pages of prose, encompassing numerous notebooks, which I now assume fill a closet. In addition to penning his move reviews, Ray documented anything witty, funny and interesting. Be it anecdote or joke, it went in the notebook. I assumed he was collecting all this for his great American novel or screenplay. Egotistically, I often wondered how many things I’d said might have made it into his journals. Though we don’t converse, I follow Ray on Twitter

Old school even then, there was something grand (grandiose?) about writing in a notebook, in a bar, until drunkenness or a woman provided suitable interference.

Now I bring my laptop most everywhere and I’m comfortable writing in it most anywhere. Yet, it isn’t the same. Better, you say? I suppose: like using digital photography instead of film. Maybe inevitable is a better word than better.

Oops…my youngest daughter has just ambled my way asking for a good scratch on the back. She’s peeling a bit. I take my pencil and lightly rub it over her skin. The tool still has many uses.

Steff on Twitter

My novel on Amazon

One Response to “Writing with pen and paper evokes fond memories (and keeps sand from getting in the computer).”

  1. Matt said

    Nice post. This might not make any sense, but when I write it down it feels truer; less, I don’t know, written. Like technology isn’t getting in the way of the thought. No matter how nice the font, or how smooth the action on the keyboard, nothing is more freeing – and terrifying – as the virgin expanse of a blank page. And, of course, a sharp #2.

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