Friday, June 11, 2010

Back to the Basics

Tree graphic ©LK HunsakerSometimes you have to go back to the basics and start at the beginning.

Yesterday, still stuck on my WIP (work in progress), I walked away from the computer, grabbed pencil, binder, and loose leaf paper, and went to work on my front porch. I was distracted with perusing nature for some time, and by a little hummingbird that kept buzzing back and forth between the nearest tree and my porch feeder, but as they say, a writer is working even when she looks like she’s daydreaming.

After a nice relaxation/meditation aided by singing birds and the satisfaction of a pretty, neat yard from the hours of tiring work that went into it, the words began to flow.

There is something about putting pencil on paper that outshines keyboard and monitor by far.

That’s how I started. Way back when as I reclaimed my writer’s soul and restarted a story I’d begun as a teen, I grabbed a new package of college ruled loose leaf paper, found a bright yellow folder to collect the pages, and relished the tactile experience of creating stories. Not only was the pencil in hand and light scratching of ‘lead’ on paper fulfilling, but also the feel of a new package of unused notebook paper and the look of the highly sharpened pencil.

This was in 1996. June 1996. Funny that it should be June again when I returned to that method.

How do I remember it was June 1996? I wrote it, in pencil, on the front of my yellow 3-ring folder. In time, I wrote other things on it, as well: story notes and reminders, quotes, inspirations. It didn’t take long for that cardboard binder to become too full to hold the pages that spilled out of my imagination so fast I could hardly keep up. I had to upgrade to a new binder: a big 2 inch navy blue sturdy thing with see-through pockets. In the same vein as the yellow folder, the pockets were used to host inspirational things: quotes, cut out cartoons, and a small blue page on which I’d copied part of Corinthians 13 onto.

Humble writing beginnings, they were. And the most fulfilling.

Somewhere, part of that soul-quenching feeling faded. Maybe it was turning to the computer for not only transcribing the tons of pages I’d hand written, but for doing the first draft, as well. Maybe it was giving in to how it “should” be done and starting from the beginning and working toward the end, instead of my own unlearned method of writing down scenes as they came to me and putting them in order in that blue binder. Maybe it was trying to produce faster. After all, it was 10 years between starting that story and publishing the first book of what became so long it had to be a series. Maybe it’s the marketing that turns my art into a business.

Whatever it is that has caused the fire-squelching in recent years, it had to stop. Reverse.

A couple of days ago, a writer friend  (thank you, Paul)  posted an article link to a writer talking of freehand writing versus computer drafts. It struck a very deep chord.

So yesterday, I walked away from the computer, grabbed pencil and loose leaf paper, and another big navy binder, and sat on my front porch to return to the basics.

When it became too dark to work outside, I simply picked them up, relocated to my daybed, and continued.

I have 5 sheets, front and back, of college-ruled paper full of … scenes. Three different scenes, with whatever I decided to write at the moment.

I don’t think I’ve ever felt more fulfilled in my writing career. I can’t wait to get back to it today.

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Yes, I still have the original folder and binder, and I still use them while continuing work on that series:



thewritegardener said...

Did you get writer's cramp? When I wrote the old fashioned way I'd often have to deal with that. I journaled a lot with pen and paper. It wasn't until I was in college that I started using the computer keyboard more than paper and pen. Sometimes I think about picking up those old tools just for fun, but never do.

LK Hunsaker said...

TC, yes, that was a huge issue: not only writer's cramp, but carpal tunnel that moved all the way from my hand to my shoulder. It was horrible. But I expect if I balance things out better, it should be okay. I've learned how to exercise my hands to help things out (doing dishes works well, lol) and I have wrist braces and therapy 'gloves' with no fingers that keep me going.