Saturday, October 30, 2010

The Joys of Cyber Space

Oh, what a week it's been! Two weeks, really. I started having computer problems while we were on vacation, and they worsened by day, so that last week I had to take my computer to the shop.

Oh, the withdrawal pains! You never know your dependencies until you can't indulge them: All the blogposts I planned to write. All the blogs I wanted to visit and read. All the "bookmarks" I needed to consult for my chapter book rewrite. Interviews I'd planned for new posts. Book reviews. Facebook updates, both reading and writing. E-mail. (I could only use my husband's computer, and he uses that all day long for his business; so it was lunch, early a.m. or after dinner. Always rushed.) Worst of all, I wasn't able to write on my new draft, except for taking notes to keep in mind for later.

So it's with great joy that I sit here once again visiting blogs, Facebook, my chapter book, my research sites, my e-mail -- returning to the world I had become immersed in.

But I learned some things while I was so bereft.

1. It really is possible to write longhand, applying pen or pencil to lined paper in a notebook. And sometimes the writing seems to flow more from the heart.

2. I'd almost forgotten the calm quality of life away from the computer. I experience that normally when gardening or painting. But just having to slow down and do things the old fashioned way was a reminder that thoughts flow more smoothly without the buzzing distractions of cyber life. Walking my dog around down, in no particular hurry, I felt drenched in the beauty of autumn in Sacramento.

3. And I read more -- real books, the kind I prefer: the kind you hold in your hand, with pages you can turn and even underline and then reread with a simple flip of the page.

I suppose the whole week was a return to the art of "savoring". I have a busy life, and I love everything that keeps me so busy, but it was nice just to slow down to savor each experience for itself. Even though I'm so happy to have my computer back with all its offerings, I hope to keep some of that "savoring" mindset from now on. And write in longhand a little more in the future.

How about you? Do you get so caught up in a busy, whirling life so that you don't have time to savor things? Do you write best by wordprocessing or by longhand?


Becky Mushko said...

I'll always take time to savor things. Since my handwriting is now so bad I can barely read it (age has crooked a couple of my fingers), I find it much easier to caress my Mac's flat keyboard than to grasp pen or pencil.

Thank goodness for computers! They keep me connected to the world AND help me write.

Anonymous said...

I love this: "It really is possible to write longhand"! Good to be reminded of this.

Rachna Chhabria said...

My first drafts are always in long hand. Welcome back, Elizabeth. Great to see you blogging. :)

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Becky, I understand the handwriting thing. And I do love all the options wordprocessing, particularly cut, paste, copy, print, delete.... I remember typewriter days and carbon copies and white-out, and before that, careful erasures. Ick.

Naomi & Rachna, yes, I feel more connected to the page when I write something longhand. Especially on first drafts. It's just that I've grown dependent on getting things out quickly. Maybe not always the best idea when your Muse is whispering.

Jayne said...

My fingers seem to fall over themselves after one sheet of A4 - I'm worryingly out of practice with longhand. And welcome back as well!

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Thanks, Jayne. One thing I notice is that, now, if I write longhand, it's hard to keep up with my thoughts. I think that's one reason I'm so addicted to the keyboard!

Julie Musil said...

This is timely for me. My computer is really slow right now and it's driving me crazy! Maybe it's time for me to step away from it and savor life away from the screen.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Hi, Julie,

I do want to keep the "savoring". One thing I've noticed with the computer world is that I get caught up in it and get into a sense of rush-rush-rush. So much to do, to read, to write, etc. I love it. But I also loved the time away from it. How contradictory! :-)

Anonymous said...

I love writing long hand - when I start plotting a new novel it's completely by hand - I write out scenes that play in my mind, plot notes, research. I just love that process of pen to paper. However once I start writing then I like my computer - so much easier to edit :D

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Hi, Jennifer, yes, it's the ease of editing on the computer that I couldn't do without. As for starting things longhand, I usually write out the idea for a book or story longhand. And poems always start out longhand. It's been awhile since I've started a book that way. I probably should try that for my next.

Lydia Kang said...

I need more reminders to savor things. I write notes in longhand, and my MS on the computer. Glad you had a good "unplugged" time!

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Thanks, Lydia. "Unplugged" is a good way to put it! That's how I felt.