Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Not my type

I'm convinced that writing will never be as good in the computer age as it was in the days when everything was done by typewriter. Back in the day, when you wanted to write something, you had to mean it. You had to think things out a bit, plot out a course of action and be damn careful as you started tapping away, each button press ruining your ink ribbon a little more.

My time with that halcyon age was brief. A few reports in elementary school. A pretty good three-page, triple-spaced fourth-grade biography of Leonardo da Vinci and a blistering fifth-grade treatise casting doubt on William Shakespeare as the true author of the plays that bore his name. (It was a lightning rod for its time and a definite precursor to Jen Carrell's "Interred With Their Bones.")

After that, everything went to crap. But it's all just a part of the natural evolution of things. I'm sure someone chipped a similar rant like this into a stone tablet, lamenting the bygone era of cave paintings.

It's true that the era of instant word processing allows for swifter revisions, but I doubt the upside offsets the fallacy of second-guessing yourself and mucking around with your voice. When no sentence you write is ever permanent, how can it mean as much to you?

When Truman Capote read Jack Kerouac's "On the Road," he dismissed the blistering stream-of-consciousness epiphany by saying "That's not writing. That's typing."

And now we don't even have typing anymore.

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