24 November 2010

How I write

I still have the first scripts I produced on a big black Underwood typewriter whose typebars would jam every time I pressed two keys at once.  Writing felt more like chiselling letters into stone tablets than anything else.  Chiselling would be quicker and more accurate.  To make matters more interesting, the 'n' was misaligned and would always appear in red and the 's' was entirely disfunctional.  I managed to hack out a few short stories, one of which I submitted to the BBC and was unsurprisingly rejected.  Later, for my 21st birthday present, I obtained an Adler typewriter which possessed none of the Underwood's character and one that it didn't have.  My output dried up entirely on the receipt of this super-efficient state of the art machine.

Computers proved more productive than the Adler but less productive than the Underwood.  I did so much revising, rephrasing, reformatting and rewriting that very little reached the light of day, apart from half a novel about a very amusing chap who lived on a landfill site and upset lots of people.  I lost the heart to continue with this project when I found out that the person I based the character on was permanently in a wheelchair having been brutally maimed for doing exactly those hilarious things I was writing about.

In July 2007, I began to write with a fountain pen. 
Since then, I have finished my SF novel "Technical Difficulties" and written a good chunk of "Due Diligence" which isn't SF but a modern day thriller.
Using a pen and paper involves a kind of direct transfer of thought for me.  It as if the words form themselves on the paper without mechanical distraction or electronic interface.  There is an obvious disadvantage of this technique,consisting of having to laboriously type up the stuff I have written and facing the terrible temptation of fiddling and faffing with it as I do.  I overcome this obstacle by dictating it and e-mailing the voice file to a transcription service offered by Christine Woodward [chris.digitype@btconnect.com] who lives about two miles away from me, so the e-mails get to and fro quite quickly, and doesn't mind the rude words and the occasional descriptions of sexual activity.

So, my new technique coupled with less telly has worked wonders.

I even call myself a writer now.

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