I remember when I was in eighth grade, I read an edited version of the story called “Flowers for Algernon” – in it the the narrator beings to gain the ability to type. When he gained this ability, he found that he was able to create actual sentences, ones that were complex, and kept up with the racing thoughts that were forming in his head.
It was an exciting moment for the narrator. It was a moment of clarity, where you saw who he really was.
But that meant that he wasn’t handwriting things like he used to.
For me, I have experienced a very polar opposite experience.
Now do not get me wrong, typing is a truly valuable resources to us writers. I often have many thoughts, many ideas, and frankly there is now way that I would have survived my entire life as a writer, at least up to this point, where I turned in quickly crafted newspaper articles, magazine articles, blog posts, essays, short stories, and even a novella here and there in a drop of a hat. Retiring the art of sitting down and slowly crafting a story has been all wrong.
For years now I have been trying to write about an experience I had but I haven’t been able to craft what I felt comfortable with it saying. I would open up a Word document and go at it for maybe ten minutes, and feel that I wasn’t giving this the feeling, the depth, the pain, the interest, the humor that it needed to be the piece this experience needs to be. So I deleted it. I did this creating and then destroying process to many Word documents over the the the course of three years now.
Well, as writer’s luck would have it, my computer was acting up one evening. Not a too uncommon experience. But that particular night, I needed to get some thoughts off of my mind. I couldn’t continue to relive or remember these events without at least detailing how that particular person acted in that specific instance, the color of her shirt, the smell of her hair. There was something beautiful and terrifying in it, and I needed to capture it. Since I couldn’t use my Dell, I grabbed the nearest Composition book I had. I begun scribbling some thoughts, little things like “her hair smelled of ginger – odd for hair.” Those thoughts slowly started to form sentences though, and those sentences turned into paragraphs, paragraphs into pages, and for once in my life, I have been able to write about a truly painful but eye-opening moment in a way that I feel like gives it the justice it deserves.
Being forced to slow down sometimes is not a bad thing, I’ve discovered. It’s an old way to discover something beautiful.