Archive: March 19th, 2008

Match it for Pratchett

Here’s a slightly off-topic announcement for you. I’m assuming that you all love to read, and that many of you love sci-fi and fantasy books as well. Well, Terry Pratchett (author of the Discworld books) recently came forward with the announcement that he has Alzheimer’s. He’s donated approximately a million dollars to Alzheimer’s research and his fans are trying to match that. They’ve only been collecting for something like four days and are up to about $70,00 (35,000 British pounds) … So!

I have a special hatred of Alzheimer’s, since it’s what (finally) killed my grandfather back in 1967, before they really knew what Alzheimer’s was. My grandmother took care of him until the end–and she luckily had great neighbors and relatives who helped out–but it was enormously difficult. On the rare occasions Dad mentions it, he’ll say that my grandfather almost took her with him, it was so incredibly hard. So, yes, I’m definitely supporting this one, for the grandfather I never got a chance to know.

You can donate to the Match it for Pratchett site or to the Alzheimer’s Research Trust directly. Oh, and there are t-shirts, too. Whether you ever read the man’s books or not, it’s a good cause, folks. Or even just promote it on your own blog to spread the word. Do you know that they’re predicting that 18% of all baby boomers will develop this disease? That’s one in five people out of an entire generation. Talk about scary. Match it for Pratchett!

Handwriting: The Flow of Writing

When you sit down to write, do you reach for a pen? Or a keyboard?

It’s not just an idle question. There’s a completely different flow to the act of writing when you’re writing long-hand on a pad of paper as opposed to tapping away at a keyboard.

j0433182.jpgFirst, there’s the portability issue. Even with laptops springing up at every coffee shop around the world, having dedicated power jacks on airplanes, and being smaller and lighter than ever, they will still never be as portable as paper and a pen. With paper, you don’t need to worry about the battery running down, or software glitches–or that dropping it will render your precious work irretrievable (unless you drop it in a puddle). You can fold paper into your pocket with a golf-sized pencil and be ready for anything. You can jot down notes and impressions in a journal in your briefcase while you’re on the train. You can meditate with a pad of paper on the beach without worrying about sand or water damage. For sheer ease of use, paper is hard to top.

Laptops and typewriters, on the other hand, keep you in one place, in a seated, upright position, often at a desk or table. They rely on mechanics, and therefore put a “machine” between you and your writing, which bothers some people. On the other hand, the output is immediately legible, which cannot be said of everybody’s handwriting (cough). Additionally, if you’re using a word processor to write, it makes editing a snap. Instant find/replace for name changes. The spell-check function (which should be used warily but is still handy). Easy insertion of new paragraphs, or moving entire sections.

Of course, in this modern age, even a handwritten manuscript is going to need to be typed before it can be submitted to a publisher or posted to a blog, so keyboards are going to come into the equation at some point.

Me, personally? My handwriting is so abysmal at this point, writing anything longer than a few sentences in a note card is a chore–for me and for the reader. The thought of writing an entire book by hand? My hand cramps at the thought. How J.K. Rowling managed to write 1,088,072 words of her seven-book Harry Potter series out by hand just boggles my mind. If that had been me, you wouldn’t have been able to decipher anything past page six–if you made it that far. Therefore, I’m used to thinking in front of a keyboard, where I can simply type without having to worry that I just skipped half the letters in “writing” because I can’t seem to write “i-n-g” any more.

This is the first entry in a series of posts about handwriting. The next entry? It will be about the personal touch.