For the down draft, this is how it’s only ever been for anything longer than a blog post. Typing it up into Notepad++ or even a Gmail draft is actually part of the revision process. I don’t usually put the final draft into a Word document or anything, because I’m often cross-posting to different platforms, and markups like italics don’t always transfer the same everywhere.
I’ve never learned shorthand, and I only ever use cursive when I’m bored on Curriculum Night. I handwrite in block letters that vary widely in legibility, and I love it.
The first and best reason for me to initially compose on paper is that it encourages creativity. That first capital letter, how big shall it be? One minute I want to see how legible I can be, and the next I’m squeezing out squiggles indistinguishable from an EKG tracing. Striking out words and cramming replacements into the margin feels so badass, rebelling and dictating at the same time. Often I’ll realize I needed to flesh something out several pages back, so I’ll write the new passage and draw a box around it and then trace an arrow up the margin of each preceding page until I reach the point where I want to insert it. The sheer idiom of editing is thrilling.
Handwriting is like sculpting. My hands are gripping, pulling, pushing, tearing until I see on the paper what I hold in my mind. All the crossed-out sentences and passages sprawl like fallen soldiers, testifying to the struggle. Sometimes they are resurrected; I will strike them out only to write them again exactly the same, usually more legibly the second time. There is no other word for this than authority.
Of course, there is no small amount of vanity and romanticism to writing, and I freely admit I revel in the monastic flourish of pawing through a stack of legal pads, grabbing one and flipping to the last scribbled page, then fishing out a ballpoint and hunching over and scratching away. When I was very young and obnoxiously precocious, I made a point of never taking notes in class. That sort of changed when I got to college, but I didn’t fully embrace the scrivener pose until I spent a year studying abroad. I wanted to record all my new experiences, and pen and paper were the only practical method. Since then, I’ve tried to always carry some form of notebook wherever I go.
I don’t have a lot of free time to write size porn, and I don’t have a dedicated size fetish studio. But when I have the inspiration on the bus or during a lunch hour, it’s so much easier to grab the pad then worry about who can see my screen or if I’m being keylogged. The smuttier passages are predictably less legible, but I don’t get that many over-the-shoulder readers these days.
There really isn’t any other way for me to open the tap. Blank screens don’t juice me, and no typed word is as expressive as one I have carved out of ink. Kinetic devotions hold muscle memory, and I place my stamp on my words as I set them down. I am impressed with myself.
Yes, this means I’m writing again.