Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Real writing

Neil Gaiman is writing his next novel in a beautiful leather-bound blank book that was purchased in Venice. Click over to his blog and take a look at the pics--and note that the third photo shows two very full handwritten pages (he says they're close to 200 words each, on average) with no scratch-outs.

The man is just not normal.

Surely Mr. Gaiman would be a published author even if he'd never touched a computer. I can't say the same for myself. I can't even write a two-line e-mail message without making changes to it, so the idea of writing a first draft of a novel without being able to insert or delete lines of dialogue or move entire paragraphs to other pages is more than a little daunting. I owe a large portion of my writing success to MS Word, and I don't care who knows it.

I wonder what percentage of the people writing novels right now could complete a good first draft without a word processor. Would anyone like to hazard a guess?


Heather said...

Are you kidding me?
I jot down notes in a little Nancy Drew pad while driving or in line at the grocery store or whatnot. Does that count?

pacatrue said...

My longest item is an 80-page novella, and I'm unpublished. However, I write the first draft by hand always. One reason is just that it lets me write anywhere, such as in bed or wherever, without having to lug a laptop around. The other reason is that typing it all in later is such a pain that I can be more brutal with the cuts. It's almost nice to leave out 5 pages, because that way I have less to type. I also stare at a computer several hours a day for work as it is. It's nice to change position every once in a while.

jeanjeanie said...

If it makes you feel better, he's talked about his process before, and apparently his stories go through a lot of revisions in the typing stage. His first drafts are mainly unedited brain dumps.

I tried his method a few years ago and it just didn't work for me. Typing is too much an integral part of my creative process.

Brenda Coulter said...

Typing is too much an integral part of my creative process.

Mine, too. I do several drafts before a book is finished--and that's on the computer, where I'm constantly adding, deleting, and moving things around. I just can't imagine beginning the process in longhand.

Paca, your editing process gave me a good laugh.

Amy Jane said...

I always thought I hated writing, until I started typing my stories.

It was the physicality of handwriting and being evaluated (I suppose) that I disliked so much.

Once in h.s. where I was able to type everything I started doing very well.

Now I describe myself as a writer.

Amazing how technology changes things...