Sunday, May 10, 2015

[Rock] : [Paper] : [Kindle (Computer)]

[Rock] : [Paper] : [Kindle (Computer)]

It's that old game: rock; paper; scissors. Which beats which? Of course you might have to establish whether you’re talking about reading or writing. I might go into which is best to read some time later; but for now I want to look at how writing has changed. Notice how I didn't say improved.

I was reading about someone’s experience; they spoke about the advice that the speed of creativity in writing with the pencil or pen and notebook are things that go hand in hand; and that this advice worked for them. I think this type of advice is something that's more personal preference than universal truth. I won't even go into the argument that writing the creative content in your head is the most efficient: and saves trees. Writing onto media puts down into words what's rattling around in someone’s head in a form that might be readily available to the author and perhaps shared with colleagues. Throughout history the media has changed. The purpose might range from fear of forgetting something before they get it down or it might be viewed as a way of preserving information over long periods of time to be used by others. We’ve been doing this since near the dawn of time.

Long ago we used rock. Rock lasts longer most of the time and God wrote on rock with his fingers so there is no shame in using rock unless you're pretending to be God. It's murder on the finger. Then there was the quill and parchment of which parchment didn't last as long as rock and I'm sure there was some discussion about which was faster though not much really, because CNC machines would not be invented for quite some time; otherwise rock would still be in favor. Switching to quill had its advantages: such as, if you ran out of ink there was always blood. But for dissemination of work over a wide area either paper or rock required a lot of time with many hands to make a few copies. Then come printing presses, which were great for wide distribution; but for utility and speed it was easier to drag around, pen and paper.

Then we have the lighter weight typewriter. Nimble fingers and typewriters and precision typing skills would argue that the typewriter was faster than paper and quill and much faster than scratching on a rock. But they were heavy, cumbersome, and awkward;until there were light weight portables and electric typewriters, the market for quill and paper still existed for anyone constantly on the go. And then even the light weight portable typewriters were not as easy to carry as a pen and notebook.

The next big step is the computer. The first one of those was about as portable as a printing press and even the first laptop was a bit heavy though you didn't have to carry a ream of paper; as you would with a typewriter. Now with the tablets and phone apps it’s like having the notebook and pencil or pen and yet saving all the paper, ink, and graphite.

But which is faster for the writer? That was the question.

There's a possibility that most writers don't fall in that highly skilled department when it comes to typing skills. Perhaps hunt and peck or using one of those insanely small keyboards on a phone might add time to the equation. So does that make pen and paper faster?

Not for me.

In fact, using pen and paper has always been counter intuitive for someone like me. My handwriting is atrocious; so much so that I used to use a non electric smith corona for everything. Trying to sort through my notes done by hand are similar to deciphering a strange language etched on a rock. You can call it laziness that my penmanship is poor; and a lot of people did and still do. But the bottom line is that the best method for me to use, for written word, is the computer. As for computers: first drafts, for me; I leave the auto spell checker on, to save me from having to backtrack. Since I know I'll redo everything at least five times before I give it to anyone else, this works despite the insistence of the spell checker to incorrectly alter simple words on the fly. All other edits are with spell checker off.

Does this put me to a disadvantage and slow me down when creating? My hand, my pencil, my pen, my paper, my keyboard and my computer don't think. I do that and the only thing that slows me down is the thinking. When I put it all on paper or in electronic form it takes about the same amount of time and except for my poor handwriting, none of those other pieces of the puzzle seem to be any better than the next, in creating a page from my thoughts. But when my heart gets into it, everything begins to flow out and all I worry about is not having anything at all to put it onto before it starts to fade away like last nights dreams.

So I will take what's available at the moment, paper-and-pen or computer, with the caveat that if its pen and paper some parts might get lost in translation.

As for rocks: the neighbors are happy they took those away from me, because finding them in the living-room amidst all the broken glass was getting annoying.

J.L. Dobias

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