Thursday, May 1, 2014

Searching for the Soul of My New Machine

10:27 AM, 1 May 2014

Here we go: A new machine, a new writing device. I hereby christen my new laptop. I bid goodbye to my older, failing computer. For practical, time-saving reasons I moved from pushing pens and pencils to using a keyboard to keep my journal about four months ago.

Still, pens and pencils beckon me. They pull me back to them with their prized portability and lack of malfunction and required learning curve. Rarely are there software updates or 2.1 versions of college-ruled notebooks or medium-point blue-ink pens. They don’t need internet connections and I’m not required to register online and find my way through a fourteen-step installation process to hold a tangible paper representation of my writing in hand. Yes, admittedly there are spelling and editing drawbacks. Do I sound like I’m trying to talk myself into this new-fangled machine-writing habit? I am trying to stick with it. I am trying to find the benefits to it. After all the time I spent meticulously transcribing old journals into a digital format you would think I would never look back.

Nostalgia grabs me. I like my stack of weathered notebooks, worn and crumpled from getting stuffed into backpacks, suitcases, and diaper bags, splashed with green tea and the occasional tear, doodled upon relentlessly and absentmindedly. When I open them there’s an exhale released from long ago. They aren't color-corrected with military margins. Instead, they carry a scent from another era, an older chapter of my life. There are cross-outs and little carets where I inserted afterthoughts and qualifiers. It is easy to surmise what kind of mood I was in and how tired I was by the attitude of my hand printing. I always printed. My script was, and still is, abominable and continues to suffer from dearth of practice. Even my signature is sloppy and unreadable. And then there’s blue ink, my favorite. No matter how crisp and clear and perfectly spaced my Word documents are, they will never provoke the satisfaction and gratification derived from watching fresh blue ink scratchings settle and dry on those faint blue college rules. As a lefthander, I always wrote from above, a necessary, contorted position to avoid dragging the side of my hand through wet ink. Nevertheless, I spent years of my life with a faint blue haze on the hammy side of my left pinky and fist, a handwriting tattoo of sorts.

This new machine is clever. The keyboard is comfortable and yielding. Transcription is a long and arduous process. I still need to cover ten more years of hand-written notebooks, a task I try not to think too deeply about as it will tip me into a bout of bone weariness. How will I get it all done? Is it really worth it? Distractions abound. I search for my focus and gird my determination. I hope - I long, to complete this process soon and get on with the fun of revision, of weaving all this life work together.   

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