Given that you are reading this on-line, you are likely aware of the changes wrought by technology on the publishing industry. E-books are killing the printed book, Amazon is killing B&N, B&N and Amazon are killing the indie book store, and my friend Robert K. Lewis is writing his next novel on an honest-to-God typewriter.
It’s a wee bit out of date in the technological age and is unlikely to fit in most home offices, but it remains awesome.
But over the last few weeks as I’ve started writing the next book about Bridget Hodgson, my butt-kicking, crime-solving midwife, I took one giant step backwards, at least from a technological perspective.
I’ve written the first 15% of the book by hand in a leather-bound notebook from Target.
[By way of explanation: I just spent three weeks chaperoning a student trip to China. This meant lots of time on buses, trains, and planes, where computer power wasn’t always reliable. I also didn’t feel like dragging my laptop up the Great Wall.]
As I wrote, I wondered how the technology I used would affect the process of writing and the book itself. Was this something I wanted to continue after I returned to the United States?
The downside of writing a book by hand is pretty clear: it’s going to take longer. The writing isn’t any faster than typing, so I am simply adding a step. Rather than writing and typing simultaneously, I will have to write it by hand and then type it into the computer.
But I can’t help wondering of the change might be worth it. I find myself more focused: no computer = no email/Facebook, etc. If I wonder about the meaning of a word, rather than getting lost in the Oxford English Dictionary for ten minutes, I make a note to look it up later and keep writing.
Also, since I don’t save my work chapter by chapter, I have stopped thinking in chapter increments. (Does anyone have one big file for their entire novel?) The pace and plot are dictated not by structural demands of the novel – I try to keep my chapters relatively consisted in length – but by the story itself. I feel like the story has added momentum. (Granted I could be wrong, but that’s how it feels at the moment.)
In any event, I’m not sure what I’m going to do as I move forward, but let me open the floor to all of you:
- Have you ever – as an adult – written anything by hand?
- How does technology affect the way you
- What should I do? (I’m terrible at making decisions.)