As a writer I am always researching. I ask a million questions every day. Not always getting answers I might add. I search not only online sites for a specific subject or in other people's works but just everyday things all around me. Just looking and listening is a kind of research, even if a little more abstract. How exactly does a bird flap its wings? What songs of a bird are specific to territory claims? Why is one wild wallaby happy to come close to me and stare as if really interested in what I am, while another bounces away at the first sight of me? Why has such and such a book sold millions when I, among many others, think it was pretty mediocre? And why does this best seller author get applauded by the industry so much? Is it that publishers pay for so much advertising and opinion that it rolls over like a stone gathering moss and so more and more people buy because it is apparently well accepted by the promotional companies? IS this a form of brainwashing? This last question leads to the one of why most humans are so easily brainwashed. Most of us have succumbed to commercial advertising for over a century. We buy far more products than we ever need, or, sadly we pay a lot more for them simply because they have a Brand name that has had millions spent on promoting it. Many more have succumbed to the belief systems of various creeds that promote their belief as the only true one, which in turn leads to dangerous results such as killing or injuring those who oppose your belief system. I write this on the day of such a killing in Manchester UK. Yet another attack against innocents, mostly young people who were simply enjoying music at a concert. It is a real tragedy, no matter who caused it and no mater what was put into their heads. No amount of research seems able to untangle how a thought can be turned into horrific action, which of course has been happening throughout the history of humankind. Us and them mentality seems to have existed since the year dot. Evolution hit upon a creed, survival of the fittest, while belief systems provide the stimulus. We are all flawed creatures to some degree and this is what writers write about. Writing about death and horror can ask questions yet sadly not provide answers. Back to the drawing board
Saturday, 6 May 2017
A recent event (floods) in my town means that not all shops, banks and offices are currently open for business. All will be open in the not too distant future but for the moment I am doing things a little differently. People's birthdays remain on the same day and bills once received need to be paid. So, this week I have done something not done for ages. I actually wrote out cheques in my best hand, wrote carefully the addresses to which the letters must be sent, popped the cheques plus the butt of the invoice to be paid into an envelope, slowly stroked my tongue along the sticky bit on the envelope, pressed the flap down, pressed on it, flipped over the envelope and placed a stamp in the correct right hand corner. This ritual was done for several bills due for payment. I had a nice collection of hand written envelopes. Strangely it gave me such a feeling of satisfaction that I grabbed some blank notelets out of my drawer, kept for unknowable emergencies and decided to actually write a letter to some of my family and friends. One was for a birthday coming up soon, one was just to check on the well being of a family member, one was a 'lets catch up on the gossip' type of communication and another were the basic facts about health and welfare of myself and family. Then I kept going until all ten of the notelets were used up. It was such a pleasant way to communicate. By writing in long hand I felt more in contact with the person I was writing to. Was it a much slower? process. For me, not really, because although I type faster than I hand write I have always to go back and check my typing, and retype the errors, usually considerable. Whereas having lived with and loved words for so many years they not only come easily to me (years of learning spelling, grammar and vocabulary at school and Uni) but I can somehow pour emotion into them as well. I have to say placing my hands on a pen, then holding the notelet or bill in the other and passing on not only my words but my emotions is an incredibly intimate thing to do and I loved it. The result, a small but for me immensely personal pile of envelopes ready to be posted was a pleasant sight; bringing back the joy of receiving hand written Christmas and Birthday greetings, of receiving a letter from a lover or a friend, of being in touch with a grandmother who's letters were written with a nib pen and deep blue ink in a romantic scribbly almost Gothic style, with curls at the end of each letter. Each letter of the alphabet a work of art and written with love.
This might all sound like romantic rubbish, or nostalgic nonsense at least but I do find there is a great difference in writing by hand and by keyboard. I am trying to duplicate the intimate sense of communication in this keyboard blog. Let me know if I have achieved some semblance of it.
I also have to confess that the first draft of my short story collection, as well as my mystery thriller, were written in long hand before the second draft appeared on my screen via the keyboard. If asked to describe the difference for me I would say that I write with my heart with a pencil/pen and my head on the keyboard. Both are important for any creative process so I think I will stick with this method. Most of my favourite writers do go straight to the keyboard and I bless them for their outputs. For them the keyboard wins every time. For me? Lets say fifty fifty.