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I’m writing more now that I have ever done before, and practically none of it is appearing here.

Or anywhere else on the web.

I am, to quote the fabulous Jam single of the same name, Going Underground.

The reasons for this are varied.

I picked a pen about two years ago and realised I barely knew how to use it anymore. It seemed like an almost wholly unfamiliar instrument. So, I said to myself, why not try it out again.

So I did.

And as I wrote out those letters in an uncertain hand, looking to all intents and purposes like the first illegible scratchings of a beginner child, I began to realise a deeper truth. By relinquishing control of my writing to the perfectly formed letters of the computer font, the unceasing surveillance of the the spell and grammar checker, and the forced format of the word processing program, I was losing at least half the expressive potential of my writing.

Hand writing isn’t just the words. It’s now you shape those words. It’s the nib you use, conventional, italic, flex. It’s ink. Free or slow flowing. Permanent or splashed by the rain. Colour. Shade.

In other words, it’s art. Your own little paintings.

Maybe you think you can mimic all this through creative control of a word processor.

You can’t. You can’t because all your fingers do in tap the keys or move the mouse. Maybe with a graphics pad and pen you can get closer, but it’s still just a set of lit pixels on your screen. Ink and paper are real. They exist without the need to power up your computer. You can touch the paper, run your fingers over the text. Over those words formed by the motion and pressure of your hand on that pen.

I found that as I formed words, sentences and paragraphs with my pen, they interacted in quite different ways with my mind. They seemed real in a way that anything I type here does not. I remember what I write. What I put up here leaves my memory almost as fast as I type it.

So I gave up on the computer. Realized that all this was ephemeral, words without impact or meaning.

So now a series of filled journals is lining up on my bookcase shelf, growing about one per month. They may never be read again, by me or anyone, but they seem more real than anything here.

That’s the way it’s going to be.

 

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