When I first started to write I bought a copy of Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones. I found it on a shelf with other writing books during one of my many excursions to Harvard Square. This was when bookstores used to stay open half the night and there was no Starbucks or Seattle’s Best and instead you sat on the floor with your legs crossed reading until just before the last Red Line train left.
I’m not sure what drew me to that book–the cover, the title, the 20% off. But I have to credit those chapters with the start of a writing journey that has taken me from spiral bound notebooks to journals to handwritten stories that were later typed to working at the computer on a story to actually blogging. I never thought the computer would become a tool that brought out anything creative in me. I have been alive long enough to think high-tech was a self-correcting typewriter. When I first started thinking about actually submitting something (which to date I have never done-another blog someday) submitting electronically was just becoming the expectation, and by this I mean you copied your story to a floppy disc and mailed it in!
I don’t think about all this technological change very much. I can find my way around a computer fairly well, I can swing both ways (Mac & PC), I make cute PowerPoint presentations and use clip art and shop on the web and know how to add up a column in Excel. I color code my appointments in Outlook and organize files in folders and I even have a Facebook page. And all this I take for granted, like learning to walk or talk or ride a standard stick shift–who the hell remembers how you acquired those skills, they just grew along with you. (OK, I actually do remember learning to drive a standard–I threw change at the toll booth guy on the Mass Pike because I couldn’t downshift.)
But lately I have been avoiding the computer and I have an itch to go back to those notebooks. To sit in coffee shops or on park benches and describe everything I see. To reach back to random half-baked childhood memories and write song lyrics or quote poetry and not care about the structure of the story or the viability of the characters or the perfect metaphor. I just want to wear old sweaters and use a fountain pen that makes a blue bump on my middle finger and drink dark jittery coffee and eavesdrop on people and feel like a writer.
Do you feel like a writer?