Saturday, 21 September 2013

Dear Writer Revisted: Letters Twelve and Thirteen

A double post today, largely because I missed a day on Thursday, but also because these two chapters do tend to go hand in hand.

Before I start, I just wanted to make a quick point:  A few of you have been commenting that you feel as if you don't need to read Dear Writer Revisited because you are reading the book through me.  This makes me feel terrible!  I need to make it clear that I am by no means giving you the full experience of this book, I am simply working my way through it and reflecting.  I am leaving out the fabulous quotes, the in depth analysis and overall the wonderful atmosphere of the book.  They say no two people ever read the same book.  What you get out of Dear Writer Revisited will hopefully be different to what I get out of it.  As they say in Bali, same same but different.
Don't get me wrong: my heart is warmed by all the charming responses these posts have been getting and I am enjoying the process immensely, but I wouldn't be doing my job as a reviewer properly if I did not make you want to read the book.  So please, imagine these posts as dipping your toes in the pool.

Letter Twelve:  In the Beginning Was the Quill

Quill:  featherlike instrument used for writing.  You know, like in Harry Potter.

The author's note for this chapter warns us that the modern reader will most likely find this chapter somewhat quaint.  It draws on the idea of moving from hand writing to word processing, which at the time of the book's initial publication, meant typewriters.  This chapter is based truly on the writer's experience (but are we talking about Carmel or Virginia here?  I am not sure...) and suggests that there may be some sort of inspirational link between hand writing and the flow of ideas.  You really must read the anecdote in this chapter.  It provides a lot of food for thought.  It also provides a hilarious anecdote about Fay Zwicky letting loose on a class full of Word Processor loving creative writing students.

Oh yes.  She did.


The letter ends with a question, which I will now open up to the peanut gallery:

Does the use of a word processor (known these days as a COMPUTER) change the way you write?
For me, personally, I am not so sure that it does.  Writing on a computer is easier than hand writing.  My hand doesn't get tired or cramp up for one, and so I can just keep going and going and going.  The temptation to edit as you go is there though.  Does this outweigh the benefits?  Maybe.  Hand writing is also more portable.  I can knock out a short story on my lunch break or before I start work, as I have done a lot lately.  And the blank page in my pretty notebook is a lot less daunting than the obnoxious blinking cursor.  But I don't tend to go and sit in a special place and write in my journal.  I turn up at my desk and I write.  Now if only I could learn to close Facebook while I was at it!

Your turn... tell me all about it in the comments.   

Letter Thirteen: Dear Diary

Any takers on what THIS letter is about?  There truly are no prizes for guessing.

The letter opens again with an author's note, making the point that a lot of journal-writing style activities have now moved online- to blogs!  Blogging and journalling are slightly different though, seeing as, as Virginia defines it, writing in a journal is like writing a letter to yourself.  And when I write on my blog, I don't know exactly whom I am writing for but I know it is someone OTHER than myself.

The book so far, if you've been paying attention, has been full of a lot of great activities which would make the basis for a brilliant journal.  You can also put things such as impressions, memories, dreams and quotes from books you are reading into them.  For a great example of quote collecting, see Annabel Smith's blog here.

Make sure that you use your journal to fuel your passion for writing, but be careful not to focus on it to the detriment of your fiction.

Do you keep a journal?  

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