Friday, November 05, 2010

Written In Stone

I'm taking another whack at the magical realism novel I started a while back and I've discovered that the process I'm following for it seems different than for the last project, which was straight-up realistic fiction. My office looks like a giant craft project. I find myself immersed in cut-and-paste, sticky note extravaganzas, drawing pictures, taping things together, and paper-clipping bits and pieces onto eachother. I can't seem to stay in the realm of the computer. The world of the computer feels too small, as if its physical size and shape imprisons the story. It got me wondering, has writing changed as the tools of writing have changed? Do our tools affect not only our process but our product, too - that is, our stories themselves? Would the great writers of the past have produced different stories if they worked on computer?

A typewriter sends the words onto a page that flaps freely in the air. The words have a physical reality the moment you type them. Writing by hand has a messy, lively, organic flow to it. Writing by hand with a pencil, a pen, a quill - each tool seems to connect with different experiences in the brain and body, a different sense of artistry, permanency, open-ness.

On the computer, we can write and delete huge chunks of text with such ease. The words come and go like will-o-the-wisps. But their ethereal spirits are trapped inside this skinny little two-dimensional box.

How would my work change if I wrote on stone tablets? How would your work change?

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