Ink or Bytes?
A rambling by Jennifer St. Clair,
June 1999

I recently got a computer ("recently" in my writing life, at least -- it's been two years). Before the computer, I used a word processor, before that a manual typewriter. But even with the word processor and the typewriter, I hand-wrote nearly all my stories. But once I got my computer, all that stopped. I wrote exclusively on it, and felt that I should have purchased a laptop so I wasn't tied to my desk all the time.

Two weeks in early June was the first time since October 1997 that I really didn't have a computer. (I went on vacation, and didn't feel like lugging it with me.) So I printed out my current book, grabbed a notebook and a pen, and wondered if I'd be able to write again without the computer. I wanted to see if I could lessen my reliance on it.

(Not that I'm against writing on computers, mind you! I love being able to close my eyes (to see the scene better) and hear my fingers fly across the keyboard, like they're doing now. I love the way I can have instant spellcheck, and just be able to lose myself in the story, almost as if I'm daydreaming the whole thing.)

Well, not only did the experience work, I found that imagining the scene while I'm writing and not typing is just as easy. The black words on white paper seem to draw me in, to show me that perhaps, both ways, computer and paper, are good enough for me. I'm writing in my bed again. I fall asleep over my story and dream the next installment.

I'm having fun. But I think that I'll go back to the computer after this book is finished, 'cause I'll now have to type it in, and I have five other ones waiting for me to rewrite them and send them away. But at least I know now that I haven't lost the handwritten touch. I might not write as fast as I type, but the magic is still there.

[ by Jennifer St. Clair ]