24 April 2007

Handwriting sample from my journal

When it comes to the digital revolution, I'm a "jacked in" sort of guy. I'm writing a blog and run my own website, after all. But when it comes to writing, I still have traces of the nineteenth century in me. I write most of my notes for my stories and novels in longhand in notebooks. And in complete sentence, I might add, a habit that has dogged me since high school. When someone wanted to borrow somebody else's notes, they wanted to borrow mine.

I do this not out of a serious mistrust of digitial information storage; I make multiple saves and keep them in remote locations. But I sometimes worry about the obsolesence of hardware making it difficult to retrieve older data. But the real reason I still write longhand in my pre-draft note-taking stage is just a love of feeling a connection to true "writing," the hand scratching pen across papyrus.

Some writers have a romantic attachment to the old typewriter, which I can empathize with. But I'm either super-hi-tech or nadir lo-tech: computer or pen-on-paper. The typewriter falls in the middle ground, so I've never had much affinity for the old Smith-Corona days—except in the image of my favorite pulp writers hacking away at them in shabby New York apartments.

One way I get to practice my pen-to-paper love regularly is in my book-and-movie journals. I have a scholar's love for the marble-covered Mead composition book, and I use them to keep track of all the books I read and movies I see. I write mini-reviews of each one, coding them with different color ink and noting the date I finished the book or saw the movie. I like to flip through my older notebooks and refresh my memory of books and films; it's amazing how much more you can remember later if you leave notes behind. (I used to teach this to my students when they were reading, having them keep a list of the main events of the chapters they had just read. Months later, a glance at their notes would bring memories of all the details back to them immediatel. It impressed even them how much they could remember.)

Below is a handwriting sample from a page of one of my film/book journals. This is a review of the 1950 science-fiction film Destination Moon. (Click on it for a larger version.)