Sunday, 6 November 2011

the pen is mightier than the computer

There is a list of prompts at Nablopomo, (link in  sidebar) to use if needed.  As I'm knitting on only one project at the moment, I thought I would see what was there.  Must beat pictures of endless repetitions of stripes and increases on a shawl.

The prompt which shows for today, actually yesterday, since we are ahead in dates here, was a question about preferences.  Do you prefer to write with a pen or the computer?

Now truly, just what sort of a prompt is that?  Both have their uses but for speed and convenience, then surely a computer is in front.  When I came back to academic assignments, I found they needed to be typed.  I can remember sitting in front of the computer and not being able to get started.  I think that may have been because I used to start at the very beginning, like Sound of Music and work through to the end.  Writing with a pen meant I needed to be quite organised in my thoughts and arguments.  Computer word processing made the nitty-gritty of corrections easy.  Supposedly.

I learnt to be able to jump around a bit and then found that I could write with a computer after all.  However my writing also depended on handwritten ideas and thoughts.  I kept several pages for assignments in the back of my folder and when I thought of something, saw a reference, whatever, I made a note.  I started this page or these pages as soon as assignments were known.  I think that much would then tick over in my  mind.  Come the actual writing and I would go through them.  Crossing out bits that really were irrelevant, organising ideas, pushing an argument fell neatly into place for me.  With the skeleton done, I could work on fleshing things out.

I hated doing bibliographies for assignments.  Here a computer made life easy.  If I followed my ideas of course.  At the time there was not a lot of help around on the net for such things.  I made myself a template in Word and every time I read something, I would enter it that day in the bibliography template.  With all the details needed and the right punctuation and spaces etc..  It was easy to update and, come the final full stop on my essay, the bibliography was easily checked and added.  This saved hours and hours.

I said that corrections are easy using a word processor and then added "supposedly". I'm sure we've all seen errors not picked up by the spell checker, there/their and similar.  We've probably all seen the substitution of an inappropriate word  too.

I spent most of the night once typing up notes from a  visiting lecturer for the many students whose native language was not English.  In a three hour lecture, they had been unable to keep up.  I had about 5000-6000 words typed and I was tired.  Ran everything through the spellcheck and made some corrections.  I printed out a copy and took it for photocopying the next day to hand out.  A lecturer friend of mine who had been giving a class during the visiting lecture's class asked for a copy.  As I left the office I could hear much laughter.  She pointed out my late night mistake.  All through those many double spaced pages, the checker had substituted "juiciness" for "Jewishness."

If anyone is interested in doing some writing and runs a Mac, then I'd recommend Scrivener which is very good.  Not free but well supported and updates usually are free.  It runs storyboards for organisation, folders, research areas and photography too.   It has the ability to draw on any of these and and incorporate stuff into a whole.  Much more.  There is a free trial.  It's not a word processor like Word or similar.  It's a writing programme.  There may be stuff as good for  a PC but I haven't heard of anything.

I learnt to write in an old fashioned class room with inkwells which were filled every day before school.  We used  government issues pens with replaceable nibs.  If the nib was damaged it easily caused a blot on the page.  My hand writing was not good.  I recently found my primary school reports which had been kept by Mum.  All high marks except for writing where I usually had 60%.  Comments were always made about my book work needing to be neater.  One said that I needed to slow down my brain so my hand could catch up!

High school saw a graduation to a fountain pen and my hand writing writing  improved a bit.   I well remember sitting for the leaving certificate, now the HSC, and coming out of an exam with an aching elbow and cramped hand.  Physical writing is certainly harder than using a  typewriter.

Recently I have become nostalgic about fountain pens.  I had a Platignum and a beautiful Sheaffer, a gift from my much loved grandmother.  Lost, I suppose.  I found a Conway Stewart of my Mum's but it's too far gone to be easily fixed.  I shouted myself a Lamy and am enjoying using it.  Once again notes and ideas, although I've written some cards and a couple of old fashioned snail mail letters.  It felt good to use.

So horses for courses, I suppose, but the feel of the fountain pen is lovely.  Then again, a computer has its uses too.


Lynne said...

We used cartridge pens at school but being lefty-handed I was never going to top the class in handwriting! As a teacher, I had perfect manuscript and cursive but you wouldn't know it if you saw my every day scrawl!

The other day I hand wrote an important document then re-wrote it after scratching out, drawing arrows and making insertions. Finally, I typed it all into the computer where I could edit as I saw fit, then used half as many sheets of paper to print it out!

Yes, both have their place - I agree. I wouldn't even consider typing a shopping list!

2paw said...

Though our desks had inkwell, we used biros. I have used fountain pens but they are not very classroom teacher friendly. I am a poor typist, never having learned I type with gay(and terrible technique) abandon. If there is an important letter, I usually do try to write by hand, I enjoy it.I usually use a nice pen with flowy ink or a fine felt tip.
Oh a Star Wars journal???