Thursday, April 25, 2013

Thursday's Children 4/25: Laptops, Typewriters, Quills & Creativity

So I'm sitting here at my 'desk' (uh, bed), trying to think of what inspired me in terms of my writing this week.

Confession: I did some writing this week, but not that much. The time I normally spend writing I spent revising, highlighting and commenting all over my ms. And then there's the end of the semester, looming. Only another three weeks, thank God, and after Tuesday, it's just finishing up a final paper (gah) and taking the final.

Inspiration, inspiration, inspiration....

Well, the magical new laptop (HOORAY!!) for one has been inspiring me, but mostly in a hooray-I-have-a-regular-laptop-again-with-the-whole-keyboard-working-now-I-can-write-again!-kind of inspiration.

*pats laptop happily*

It's interesting, how we become so entrenched in our writing habits that if anything is different, your whole flow of creativity is thrown. (I've talked about conditioning yourself into creativity before). The place you write, the tools you use to write... all of it is tied so intrinsically into how we view ourselves and our creativity.

Kind of goes back to the is it all in your head question- how much of the need to have things the way we need to have them an actual, legitimate need and how much of it is us trying to pretend it matters?

And if it is pretending that it matters, why does it matter to us so much?

Typewriters have always fascinated me. The summer camp I went to had a typewriter in the library- a pretty modern looking one, actually. I was obsessed- the typewriter was some sort of magical lucky charm or something- I thought that if I really wanted to be a REAL writer, I would have a typewriter. There I would sit, at my fabulous (and imaginary) desk, looking all fabulously disheveled and put together in a way that I can never pull off in real life, clacking away at the typewriter, words flowing like the faucet on full blast, and it would be so excellent that I would find myself an agent and a publisher and get a seven-figure contract for that one book, like, right away.

Apparently, typewriters in my mind equal instant writing success.

Funny how writing by hand or by quill don't have the same connotations as the magical typewriter.

Quill and ink remind me of some sort of Regency woman, clad in a fabulous gown (and not so fabulous corset), writing a letter. Or of the Declaration of Independence. It's a lot more refined, and more classy, I suppose.

Someone at the typewriter tends to be hunched over, fingers banging, a full ashtray next to them and whiskey in arm's reach. Quills are more of a sipping tea very proper thank you card type of word association. In my mind, Ms. Manners answered all her letters by hand.

I've never actually used a typewriter, though I still would love to. (If anyone wants to give me one as a present, I will not say no. Really ;) ) But I have done the quill and ink route, and at the end of it, I still wasn't sipping tea wearing a ball gown and suddenly possessing a posh accent.

I was still in the seventh grade, wearing the same school uniform I was wearing at the beginning of the year. But did I feel more elegant when I learned to write calligraphy?

I did. I remember the feeling of pride when I looked down at the flourished swoops of my name that I had worked so slowly to get just right. I felt elegant and sophisticated, like the next thing I should be doing was riding to have tea with the Queen. Or a Prince, or some such.

How does a laptop fit into all of the word and feeling associations?

I'm not quite sure, to be honest. Especially since with a laptop there isn't one traditional place to be using it, which definitely throws things off. The background when you're at the typewriter or at the fancy little writing desk are very definite- and the background of a laptop is not.

The laptop conundrum has been more thought-provoking than inspiring, I think. And while it may not have contributed directly to the work I've done this week, it's made me more conscious of my ability to change my mood based on my surroundings.

So, lovely and intelligent blog reader! Word association, or something of the sort, perhaps?

When you think laptop, what background and feelings do you think? Let me know in the comments below :)

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  1. Well, I work on what is technically a laptop, but I can't stand not having a mouse, and so I have one of those and a separate keyboard so really my laptop is a desktop. And I have a desk. I got the laptop thinking I might be all groovy-writery and take it to cafes to write. Nope. I like quiet and privacy and the view out my window. I have used a traditional typewriter and let me tell you, you need to have STRONG fingers to make one of those suckers form letters. Those keys are not nearly as obliging as the modern keyboard's.

  2. I definitely understand the whole cafe thing- I get Oo distracted by everyone else there to write, which is why my room works :)
    As for the typewriter? Aaaaah so jealous! :) banging on the typewriter is kind if like slamming down the phone- a dying art....

  3. I like my laptop too. Sometimes when I'm super tired I wonder if it doesn't finish off chapters for me.

    Yet, I'm with you. Not quite sure where laptops fit in the literary world, but typewriters inspire me. I associate them with writers. My dad's a journalist. When I was a small child, I remember falling asleep to the reassuring clack of typewriter keys. Who knows what masterpieces you and I could turn out with our own typewriters?

    1. Currently I'm wondering why it's writing a research paper for me :)
      I would love to write something by typewriter- I think just the assumption that it would be literary excellence would make it so ;)

  4. I kind of felt the same way you did about a typewriter so last year, my senior year in college, I begged for one. I felt like I would always get distracted when I used my laptop to write because I would constantly go back and edit instead of movie forward so I thought perfect I need a typewriter. okay so off topic but, I got it and used it to write a few times. Its been a while since I have used it but every once in a while I will pull it out, but for the most part it sits on a corner of my desk unused. I like it there though it makes me feel kind of important.

  5. It is in our heads how we preceive our creativity flowing. I agree. My life is constantly in upheaval. If I get a chunk of time, I race to my pen and paper and WRITE! I'm in the process of restructuring my writing discipline and all the other whirlwind things and people going on. Whew! Nice post.

  6. I love my laptop, but sadly, it's gotten to the point where I have trouble writing on anything that *isn't* my laptop. The best I can do on paper is jot a few story notes here and there. So when I think of my laptop, I feel a sense of comfort and impending creativity. :)