Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Ye Olde Manuscript

I'm working on a new book. (So what else is new?)

But this time, I'm doing it olde school.

I'm handwriting the entire book.

Why??? you scream? When a laptop is quicker, has instant SpellCheck, you can look up anything you need, and I'm only going to have to type the whole thing anyway?????

Yes, I know it sounds crazy, but hear (read) me out. First and foremost, I want to be thoughtful when I write this book. As my pencil (yep, really old school!) glides across the page in cursive script (and my script is really curlicue curly), I weigh each word. The process slows down to where I think about a word and consider if another would fit better. If so, I erase the inferior word and use the better one. On a laptop, I would be tapping furiously and just keep going, figuring I'd change the word when I started revising. But handwriting (which is becoming a lost skill and art), makes me order my thoughts, it forces me to almost read it aloud in my head. On a laptop, writing is as fast as my fingers can type, and sometimes that's faster than my brain thinks. There will still be many revisions required; I noticed when I picked up the project one day that I'd used the same word in two consecutive sentences. There are empty spaces where information about the time period or the setting needs to be inserted. Laptops make it too easy to become distracted on the www. For now, it's about the writing. Later it will be about correcting/adding information.

Second, I like to write poolside.

Okay, this is actually in the pool and I'm not actually writing, but you get the drift. Laptops + water + a pool bar = disaster. If my pages may get a little soggy from a splash, I leave them in the sun and they're good to go. (Another reason not to use pen, it will smear or dissolve.)

Third, I can write at the beach without fear of surf, sand, or sun blowing up my laptop, or it getting stolen. I can write in the car (until I get carsick) without worrying I'll run out of power. I can write anywhere.

Another reason to write this out longhand is it's giving me the feels, the tone of the manuscript. It's a story about an immortal being and currently, he's in the early 1900's, but he's been around since the late 1700's, and this is how they wrote manuscripts back then. The longer process helps me to think about language appropriate for the times and places; rougher, less elegant speech of a common farmer, and then the elegant, refined speech of a gentleman. When there are chapters that require a lot of dialogue, writing longhand helps me work it out as I go, so that, I believe, it sounds more realistic.

And look at how pretty these journals are! I can't remember when I bought them, but they've been sitting in my bookcase. Like most authors, we see a gorgeous journal and we must have it. We plan on writing in them, but most of the time, we don't because they're too pretty. As I declutter and think about downsizing and simplifying my life, I'm using things that I've 'saved' for one reason or another. I'm writing this book in the journals. I'm signing bills with that sparkly pen. I'm wearing perfume to the grocery store.

I don't think it will take that much longer to write the story (talking about just the basic draft) because when I use my laptop, I go back and see an error and want to fix it, and then spend more time revising and changing than I do adding more words. (That's breaking the cardinal rule of NaNoWriMo: write it down FIRST, revise LATER.) Handwriting forces me to go forward or I'd be erasing pages, and that is not happening. Sure, I might have more revisions when I'm done, but I think I can catch a lot as I type the story into in my laptop.

It's an interesting experiment, but somehow it gives me a serenity while writing that I don't get when I use the laptop. I can't rush the writing or the writing gets too sloppy making it almost unreadable, or I get cramps in my hand. Slow and easy, thoughtful and deliberate. That's the theme of this experience.

I'll keep you posted on how it goes-