My friend Laura Brown recently asked me why I write longhand as opposed to typing on a computer. She asked me on Voxer, a resource that I am new to and, for several months, refused to use.
The reason, I think, has something to do with why I choose notebooks and pens over my iMac — I feel something too urgent when I face a computer or when I begin to speak. I believe I ought to know something and know it so solidly that it’s ready to be presented to the world. Whereas when I come to a blank piece of paper with my pen, I feel as though I am entering a story that I get to figure out. I do not need to know anything, and I have all the time in the world to play with words, thoughts, and ideas.
Writing with pen and paper has something to do with accepting myself as I am, offering whatever I have, and seeing what I can do with that offering.
I do not think I expressed this so well to Laura the day I drove home from work and talked about my reasons for writing the way I do.
The day was gray and soggy — a terrible excuse for winter — and I don’t really like to talk about writing. I prefer to write. I prefer to tell a story, and as I fumbled through a response for my friend, I looked out the car window and wondered about the mink Laura told me she saw on a walk with her father years ago. She had no plans to see the mink and, if I remember correctly, I think the walk wasn’t planned either.
But there was the mink, and there were they, and I think that’s what I mean about writing with paper and pen — I take a walk on the page, unsure of where I’m going, but hoping and anticipating for a flash of beauty along the way.
This week, write a catalog poem having to do with your writing process. A catalog poem is a list of sorts, but a word or words from the previous line are used again to create the next line. I decided to give this form a try because I like returning to an idea again and again, and finding something new to say about it. Directions and an examples can be found here. This is my attempt, which employs the catalog technique by repeating “The pen I hold,” “It is ready to,” and “a dent”:
The pen I hold is both patient and hopeful
The pen I hold is ready to make a mark, but ready to wait.
It is ready to cross out and
it is ready to doodle, write fast, write slow
The pen I hold rests nicely against the dent in my middle finger
a dent that is forever there
a dent that will never heal,
a finger that is forever marked from
the pen I hold.
Thanks to everyone who participated in last week’s poetry prompt. Here’s one from Amy Farley we enjoyed:
Prompted, I planned to write a poem
Organized my calendar, set apart time, gave it more than a moment’s thought
Readied to shed mom-ing, wife-ing, daughter-ing, friending if only for a time; my time
Time not shopping, grocery or otherwise
Not gaming, surfing, or tweeting
Not watching and listening to someone else’s script
Or singing along to someone else’s lyrics
Time out from obligation and laundry
I planned, it snowed.
A Writer’s Dream Book
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—Sarah Smith, Executive Editor Prevention magazine; former Executive Editor Redbook magazine
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