Longhand

I rarely write longhand.  Generally, I type my way through manuscripts, though I’ll jot down dialogue or a scene idea in a journal if it occurs to me sometime in the night.  But this weekend, I wrote multiple scenes longhand.  Even edited, and rewrote several of them.  My journal a mess of arrows and dashes and sketched dialogue.
 
At 2 a.m., I woke with another idea — the final troublesome scene made clear — and wrote it out in the dark, spacing the words, in what I hope, is a legible fashion.  The thrill of discovery is back, that urgent impulse to communicate, to get it all down, to carve out the final shape.

2 thoughts on “Longhand”

  1. How many times have I waked from a sound sleep with the solution in my head, with lines of dialogue, paragraphs of description, already formed and waiting to be written down? Where do they come from, as we sleep?

    I have often advised other writers, novices, not yet ready to declare themselves “real” writers, to keep a pen and pad beside the bed. Some laugh at me. Others nodd as if I had just imparted the secret thing all writers do.
    It’s just a thing, and to not be ready to catch it up when it delivers itself is wasteful.
    (“I don’t know nothin’ ’bout birthin’ no babies. . . “)
    “Real” writer or amateur, when words come, from wherever they originate, sleep, dreams, subconscious, simply writing them down is the first act.
    “A writer is a person who writes.” Is that Steinbeck again? Maybe. But catching the live, wriggling birth as out it spurts, that’s part of the messy job of a writer. To serve as our own midwife, to accept that the first thing is to write. Taking what we are given, stealing what we can, improvising and shifting and finally claiming that thing that just appeared in the night, unannounced, without a point of origin, as our own.
    It’s actually kind of neat, to emerge hours later, after writing like an automaton listening to a voice from somewhere else, to see what has been committed to paper.

  2. It is neat. Like a visitation or a haunting or something. It feels like an incident is whispered to me. I’m observing the scene, as I often do in dreams, and then I wake, and feel the weight of it on my chest.

    This conduit — whatever it is — is often how I first get a story. An image, or a character, or some exchange that wakes me.

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