Thursday, September 30, 2010

Typewriters and jumbled thoughts

This morning, I read something that made me laugh. It also sent my thoughts churning about something I've already been giving a bit of thought to. I'm reading Writing Down the Bones, a little handbook of creative writing, if you will. The author's intro suggests different mediums for writing, and the possible implications for each. Perhaps a small handy notebook while being convenient will also limit your thoughts. Writing outside the margins on lined paper will perhaps give you freedom. And then, the typewriter. That thing in a museum, that will make your "block black letters reveal a little something else about yourself."
And then, she mentions the "Macintosh." Not the Mac. It is at this point I realize I have just entered a time capsule. She dreams about using a computer, where there is a thing called "wrap-around" and you don't have to hear the ding of the typewriter. Does one get used to the ding of a typewriter? I wouldn't know.
It's all very surreal to me, as this morning's news announced the possibility that the Postal Service will be increasing the price of a stamp by another 2 cents. Soon, a stamp will be 50 cents. Half a dollar. Equivalent to the price of a gallon of gas 30 or 40 years ago. I remember when I used to write letters to my friends and family. I would gather my note paper, and carefully write out my thoughts, as there is no delete button with pen on paper. Now, I know I'm not the first person to wax poetic about this, but I'd send my letter, and then wait. Sometimes only days, sometimes weeks.
I think about what information I brought to a letter. I wasn't writing the Great American Novel, so the letters would contain high-lights of my goings on; just enough information to keep the friendship informed.
Now, we can communicate with 5 different people in 5 minutes. The landscape has very obviously changed entirely. Now, instead of buying a book of stamps for however much they will be, we pay for internet service. Now, instead of addressing a letter, Dear so and so, we share what's on our mind in a newsfeed, or we twitter or tumblr. We both share too much and too carefully craft a persona on line; the me we wish people to see.
I think of all of this in conjunction with writing. A writer needs to practice writing daily. It is not usually, unless you are JK Rowling, something that one just does. Just as an artist sketches, a writer must write just to write, with no real direction. So, I wonder what kind of impact this instant communication has on writers, and readers as well. I can spend hours on the computer following blog trails, and come away feeling like I was really enriched, or as if I'd wasted quality time. I can also sit down and bang out an email full of stories I otherwise may have not communicated via the written word. I wonder if the emails are actually good training for the writer in me, or if they stunt my creativity. I also wonder if our soundbites of information makes us antsy and perpetually moving, when maybe what we need to do is sit and be. Just be.
I obviously do not have the answers today. I know I will be thinking on these things, all the while being grateful there wasn't a single ding in the writing of this blog post, oh, with the exception of the ding of my i-phone informing me I'd just received an email.

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