Me, I suppose I’m a typist. The art of writing longhand fascinates me, though. Obviously, writers have been doing it that way for centuries, and plenty of them still do. I’ve heard that when James Patterson sits down to write, he arms himself with a bundle of sharpened pencils and a stack of legal pads. I’ve actually tried that approach myself once or twice, if only in tiny experimental bursts. My handwriting comes more slowly than my typing does. I must admit that when I’ve given it a go, my thought processes slow down, and I develop each individual moment with maybe just a touch more richness. And there’s a smoothness to it. I’m not saying that it’s necessarily better; just different.
Still, I’ve never gotten very far with the whole longhand thing. Just a child of the faster-faster-more-more-more generation—antsy by sheer biology. In fact when trying to write longhand I can almost count backward from 100 before I launch my pen across the room and throw myself at my computer. Not to mention the pen-and-paper combo inflicts the curious side-effect of transmuting my right hand into a claw.
I have two laptops and two desktop computers. By function these are really just one laptop and one desktop, but when a computer tries to give up the ghost, I can never fully let go. As long as it gives me a gasp I’ll try to limp it along in perpetuity, and trump up some half-baked job for it. (A server! I can use it as a multimedia server!) Typically, I like to write on a desktop computer because if I’m writing for ten or twelve hours straight, I really need an ergonomically-friendly environment. When I wrote American Quest, however, I did it almost entirely on a laptop. I had gotten really, really sick to the point where I could barely sit at my desk. But it wasn’t long before I started going stir crazy just wallowing around in my bed. So. I heaped up about three pillows behind my back, two under my knees, one in my lap, a pot of tea at my side and a terrier cupped between my feet, and I just wrote, wrote, wrote on my laptop right there in my cushy little bed while convalescing. Really, when I think about it, it was like a kind of cocoon. After three months, I emerged rosy-cheeked and in strapping good health, and American Quest was complete. (If some of the passages read like fever dreams, now you know why.)
Nevertheless, I intend to someday challenge myself by writing a novel entirely in longhand. Just for a lark. Could take me years (and if each passage is written during the span of a one-hundred-back-to-one countdown, it probably will.) But what have I got to lose? It’s wonderful to have a finished book in hand, but really, writing is one of those things that isn’t just about the destination—it’s about the journey.
Sienna Skyy is the author of the fantasy novel, AMERICAN QUEST.