Loch Awe in spring - Photo courtesy of Neil Donald Photography






Saturday, 13 June 2015

A WRITER'S PROGRESS - LINDA MITCHELMORE

Now then, hands up all those who take their lovely computer/laptop/fancy gadget for granted? I know I do. But it got me thinking what a debt we owe to those who came before us in getting the thoughts in our heads down onto stone/skin/parchment/paper/into the ether for posterity. I'll begin with hieroglyphs. I can't begin to imagine the time it must have taken and how teeth-grindingly awful it must have been to make a mistake....I mean, how did they rectify errors - 'Cut another block of granite, Og, I've got to start this page again.'?
Between the above and quill to paper many years must have passed. While I'm not quite old enough to have written with a quill as a child, I did use a dip pen in an inkwell at infants' school. And gawd, what a mess I made with it!
So, thank goodness, then, for Mr Biro and his pens. I still like to use a bog standard Bic today to hand-write short stories of an evening when my husband is watching something on the box that doesn't particularly interest me. I like the way they roll easily and I can write with one almost as quickly as I can think. Almost!
The first typewriter I ever used was an Underwood - well, with the maiden name of Underwood what else could I have used? You had to thump the keys with some force to get them to hit the paper and I confess I still hit the keyboard far harder than modern devices require. But there was something about the engineering of those old typewriters which was rather wonderful....a bit like a Bentley car to my mind. And then there was the gold lettering - very classy.
I moved on from that to a portable Olivetti. Portable? It weighed a ton! But they came in snazzy colours and mine was a pale turquoise. I moved on from that to a PC that used a golfball thing with all the lettering on it. It was hell to mend when it went wrong and made quite a din when I was using it, so much so that the cat used to hide behind the curtains.
Which brings me up to the present day. I've got through a few keyboards in my time (four novels, two novellas, 300+ short stories, a hundred or so features and articles, plus all the ones that never saw themselves in print)and it's probably just as well I learned to touch-type back in the day because it doesn't take long for me to rub the letters off. As I sit here now, there are blank spaces where E, O, and M are. My current one is a snazzy ergonomic job. It took a while to get used to but my wrists wouldn't want to be without it now.
So, now I've given you a potted history of all the devices I've used over the years, I'd like to know which, of all the ones you've used, is your favourite.

18 comments:

  1. Oh, Linda your post brought back memories. I learned to type on an upright like your Underwood. I still own an old upright typewriter which has been with me through some life-changing events. I wrote a job application on it for the job in Pakistan and I typed up my first article to be published. It is retired now! I remember golf ball typewriters - and I had an electronic typewriter which showed a line of type in a little window. In the attic is my first laptop, a monster that weighed a ton. I always bemoaned computer keyboards don't make the same satisfying click as proper typerwiters - but now I have a fantastic clicky keyboard called QPAD. I love it.
    Great post.

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    1. So glad you enjoyed the nostalgia of this one, Mary. I had fun writing it and looking for pix ....couldn't get the little turquoise portable one I had up but hey ...the rest were there. I've yet to embrace voice-recognition.....but we shall see!

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  2. Fascinating! I've never thought before of the horror of making a mistake when carving a hieroglyph! Like you I started touch-typing on a proper typewriter. When I try to use one now I'm amazed at quite how hard you had to hit the keys. So pleased we have moved on to keyboards. I'm not sure I'll ever want to change to whatever comes next - speech recognition? I quite like the process of thoughts to fingers.

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    1. Oh yes, Gill, it's the thoughts down through our bodies to our fingers, the pen, the paper that excites me most.

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  3. Great article, Linda - what fun! Yes, I remember dipping pens in inkwells too - and all the mess. DH gave me a gold fountain pen some years ago - it writes beautifully and I love it, but can't now remember the last time I used it. I went to get it to sign my first contract with accent - and all my ink had dried up!

    Like Gill, I can't imagine using voice recognition - the connection between brain and what's appearing seems lost. My thoughts come through my fingers. Also, I don't know how you do corrections? I'm guessing you still have to cut and paste and make corrs manually? And that's the most tedious part for me.

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    1. I have a friend, a journalist, who only ever uses a fountain pen to handwrite,,....even for the crossword. She says she sees no reason why standards should slip, bless her ... :)

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    2. I remember saying I would never switch from hand writing letters and first drafts to typing them because of the hand/brain connection. Now poem drafts are the only thing I still do in long hand so although I don't like the thought of voice recognition I reckon we'd all get used to it.

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    3. So, the glove is down, Mary - which of us will do voice recognition first????

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  4. I don't remember dipping pens in inkwells but I do remember the using an old typewriter. The letter keys that struck the ribbon always ended up stuck together in a jam! I'm in awe of you writing over 300 short stories. It's not something I am good at sadly. I find it very difficult to find a beginning, middle and end using so few words. I'm currently writing my 4th novel - a writing length that I find much easier!
    All the best with your next story and I hope the words flow easily from you Bic for you! x

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    1. Thank you, Angelea, I read about the keys getting stuck in the ribbon and I thought, gosh yes ... how could I have forgotten that! As for the short stories.....since becoming a novelist I'm finding my short stories getting longer....the last one I wrote came out at 8000 words - gulp!

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  5. Hello Linda, my writing days are not quiet as renowned as yours. Lol! What a learning curve you have been through.
    Okay I began with biro and then moved on to laptops, tablets and mobile phones. Glad to learn about the others methods. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. And thank you so much, Stella, for passing by to leave a comment. I am yet to embrace a tablet or to write via a mobile phone.....only so much a girl can cope with!

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    2. Hi Linda, I remember the typewriter, and ribbons getting stuck, and the smell of the ink. And if you wanted a copy, you used that waxy dark blue paper, sandwiched in-between two sheets of A4, and struck the keys hard!

      I'm really fussy about pens, maybe a bit OTT, I use a Papermate Flexgrip Ultra Medium, which is just an up market biro really, but I can't get the words to flow without it...

      Mostly, I write straight onto the screen though via my MacBook Air, which is handy for taking everywhere. Good if you're on the move a lot, but something I never envisaged doing twenty years ago.

      I don't carry a notebook anymore to jot things down, as I see, or hear them, because I have a smart phone, which I can use instead. It's particularly good for flash fiction and goal lists.

      Good post Linda, thank you for sharing with us.

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  6. Computers make things so much easier, though I love writing in longhand and I make my notes in a notebook, with pencil. And I scoured the country to find red ink cartridges so that I can use a fountain pen for editing!

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    1. Love the thought of you going from shop to shop hunting out red i nk cartridges ... :)

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  7. Computers make things so much easier, though I love writing in longhand and I make my notes in a notebook, with pencil. And I scoured the country to find red ink cartridges so that I can use a fountain pen for editing!

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  8. Linda,having started with pen and ink, then graduated to the second-hand underwood (e key almost worn out), I embraced technology at the first opportunity.

    Like you, I have now invested in what looks the same as your ergonomic keyboard, but so far I'm not having much success with it. Is is just a matter of perseverance?

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    1. Good to see you here, Joan - thanks for popping by. Yes, the ergonomic is very hard to get to grips with but so much better for your wrists when you do. Good luck with it.

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