I should be getting on with some writing. I want to be getting on with some writing. It is Saturday evening, there’s nothing on TV that needs to claim my attention and here I am under the faithful light of my trusty anglepoise. I am, as Mslexia magazine would say, “a woman who writes”, I have that affliction (for more on this, do have a look at the “Gene Genie” post by that’s so pants) and I am distracting myself. Of course, you might say, blogging counts – tap tap go the keys and out come the words – but it isn’t supposed to take the place of the other. And I am doing what I suspect many of the afflicted do when they are busy not getting on with it: I am writing about not writing. This is a close bosom friend of the slightly more elevated occupation of writing about writing. Sometimes I manage to do both at the same time.
This going straight to keyboard is relatively new but already I am used to it. Perhaps it was significant that when I tried to write in my notebook the other day the ink in my pen ran out. I am spending more time at the computer screen, composing straight onto it, which is something I would never have done before. I am perhaps influenced by a writer I have recently come to know who puts in full working days, all in front of a screen. A proper grownup writer. No scribbling in notebooks for her.
But then I miss the running of ink on paper, the flow of thoughts coming down through the body, moving the arm and the hand that holds the pen, seeing the ballpoint dancing across the line and filling it up with words. I love all the paraphernalia of that kind of writing and the paper page that says, do as you please and let whatever wants to come be written on me. The screen doesn’t say that. If you make a mistake or change your mind you delete it. You don’t cross it out and then maybe come back to it later. The typed letters don’t reflect your mood or the state of your health. This is good. You can feel terrible and the characters look as they always do. It takes less strength to tap keys than it does to wield a pen. On the other hand you can’t say things like, the keyboard is mightier than the sword. It doesn’t sound right.
The computer screen can feel like a room I walk into. It takes me in, no pain, no strain. But it also gives me less strength. And staring at a screen takes a toll. Writing on the page, if I have the muscle power and when the words come, always makes me feel (relatively) well and connected to the world. On the other hand (I appear to have three), the tunnel vision experience of being inside the screen, a room within a room, offers possibilities. And perhaps I need to lose it for a space: my connection to the world.
Off I go to read Mslexia.