Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Creative Connections - Messy Writing

Oct 2007 Rocky Mountains 4

My fingertips are stained purple and red from experimenting with alcohol inks. Turquoise paint from redoing the hall bath rims my fingernails. My dining table is covered with newspapers, the inks and paint, brushes, and the glass bowl that I've ink painted a glowing transparent plum color. Creativity is messy.

Writing used to be messy. Think of wastebaskets overflowing with balled-up papers, the ink-stained fingers of authors, the splurts of fountain pens on manuscripts and desks. Now writing is cleaner, no correction fluid to drip white dots on my hands,no flowing ink, not even typewriter ribbons to change. I can type and backspace, delete, change wording, correct spelling, play with fonts and colors. My hands and desk stay clean.

I wonder though if these tidy words marching across the page between clean margins are not misleading. The words are not actually perfect. They may not look it, but they are smeared, misshapen, blemished. They need polishing, crossing out, moved around. And I realize that writing is still a messy process - even if my hands aren't usually ink stained.

Lauri Griffin is a published short story writer who is currently revising some longer works. She holds degrees in educational psychology and gifted education, and is the instructional coordinator for a a literacy program. Lauri is fascinated by the many different ways our brains learn, and by the creative process. Visit Lauri's Reflections, for more thoughts on creativity, writing, lifelong learning, and parenting.


panther said...

This is a good point, Laura. I think we write much FASTER now, because technologically we can, but I too find (I'm a poet, chiefly) that a draft on screen gives the illusion of completeness when in fact lots of work remains to be done.

And then there's the PHYSICALITY of writing, really writing, i.e. with a pen or pencil, on real paper that is white or ivory and whatever and which has an odour (I hope a pleasant one !).

So, quite recently, I've gone back to longhand drafts. When I get to the stage that I'm quite-happy-with- progress, that's when I type the poem up. To give me an idea of what it may look like if published. That in itself leads to more revisions.

Having said all that (!), I love the ability to type, delete,etc. and to SAVE. This beats having lots of files messing up my home.

Morgan Mandel said...

Writing is still very messy for me. You should see my desk right now!

I've got all kinds of important papers I want right near me for when I can get a chance to look at them or use as reference. Computers are nice, but it's hard to keep going back and forth on them. Sometimes you need something handy, or at least it would be, if I remembered which pile it's in.(G)

Morgan Mandel

Lauri said...

Thanks for commenting, Panther. I do think we are missing something of the physicality of paper and pen, not that I would trade my laptop! And yes, saving is important! Best wishes for your poetry, in long hand and on the screen.

Lauri said...

Thanks for commenting Morgan. My desk is plenty messy, too. But my computer files look deceptively neat! Good luck with your piles and your writing!

Janet said...

Very thoughtful. It's an interesting observation. Typing is so much faster than writing that you don't have to think about it quite as much.
You just post a picture (with directions) of your glass bowl. :)