Life Log

Thoughts on Being Paper Free

In Greg Van Eekhout’s latest journal entry He talks about a really nice notebook that he just got. Nice pens, nice notebooks, are also linked in his comments area. Which got me thinking about my own writing tool journey…

I think the only reason I wrote on paper was b/c it was during class and I had to -look- like I was taking notes… once my mum gave up her brother typewriter (with the 4 lines text preview screen), I was heading down the paperless path with a mad glint in the eye my freshman year of high school.

The ribbons (or something) on that machine, got too expensive and were discontinued, so I moved to a large typewriter/monitor brother combo that was a gift to me that wasn’t really a gift (I wasn’t allowed to keep it in my room, and the whole family got to use it whenever). I did manage 2 short stories on that, on floppy, one of which was my first submission to WOTF summer of ’93 (I think).

That last machine succumbed to a ‘coke failure’ which I swear wasn’t my fault. I did write a 3rd short story on my stepdad’s b/w apple laptop that his school let him take home. _That_ machine had a cool civ-like game on it, but I remember it most because it was on this machine my stepdad brought back the gif animations of the impending hurricanes that were to hit the VI and change my life (summer of ’95, for those still following).

Annoyed at having to share writing resources, I spent the summer of ’95 working 3 part time jobs, putting aside $860 towards buying a 486DX Tandy (the brand was promptly discontinued that year). I spent a lot of time reading pc mags, and was going to buy a cheap 286 plasma laptop, but my parents talked me into a warrantied desktop. I still have the monitor, it is sitting in the closet here across from my desk. The desktop itself lasted until ’97 when the hard drive took 30 or so K of a novel and all the short fiction I had at the time with it.
The idea forming in my head when I got the Tandy was that I would write a novel my senior year of high school. After all, I’d written a few short stories, and started some novels on paper. Why not? Plus, I’d heard of this one kid who got into Harvard for writing a novel.

I spent the first 3 weeks playing Sid Meier’s Civilization. I didn’t sleep for days on end, and I think I remember hallucinating square pixelated phalanxes. After that the hurricanes hit, and the Tandy and I ended up living in my step-grandparents basement in Akron, Ohio, where I had ample time to work on the novel, a novella, and lots of short fiction because after moving in this manner I had no friends, no way of transporting myself anywhere interesting, and no desire to socialize. Brooding and depression where the staples of my senior year, and the theme taken up well in scads of unfinished, poorly written stories, and a novel segment, all of which we’re better off having lost in the great Tandy crash of ’97.

But you know, all through this time, the school notebook was a primary weapon. The idea often developed first in class while bored, sketched out, outlined, and then was transported back to the computer. I did some work straight on the computer as well, but the goal there was mainly to get my stuff readable and submittable.

It really wasn’t until I went through a laptop that replaced the failed Tandy, learned touch typing, went through a pentium tower, and then onto an Apple Laptop, that the computer started being the main writing tool.

I think it was the laptop/touch-type transition that moved me much closer, and then finally the move to using windowshading in apple that made me more able to manage my computer workspace in a non-linear fashion.

So yeah, almost no paper anymore.


Maybe it would be fun to go back to class again sometime.