There’s a jazzed up stationery shop called Smiggle at my local shopping centre. It sells rulers, pencil cases and erasers that look like animal heads and has exercise books with brightly coloured covers. Anything you want to perk up your school year is available there. Adults are not encouraged to visit unless they bring their purse and are accompanied by a child. I’m a barely tolerated aberration but I ignore the stares because Smiggle has the cheap 0.5mm fine point biros that I love. I scoot in and grab a dozen or so biros to add to my stash and leave before anybody has time to complain. I’m sure of it that using fine point pens improves my writing.
Before Smiggle I bought my biros at the local newsagents; at primary school my generation was at the tail end of nibs and ink stands. I was sick of blotting my copybook, which I did, and often. I had a heavy hand and was forever making holes in my exercise book. I was the biro’s biggest fan when it arrived and come to think of it I am now around to witness its demise. Who needs a biro when the iPad or iPhone can do the job just as efficiently? I still do.
I’ve been scribbling miles and miles of words to my heart’s content for years and could have happily gone on that way ad infinitum if it had not been for the invention of the personal computer. I like the process of thought to pen to paper. I rarely have to stop and jump-start my thoughts when I’m writing. I’m still using biros, especially when I’m out and about but even I have come under the spell of progress.
Progress makes life easier which is why it is so popular. I would like to take a baseball bat to progress, but as I can’t beat it, I’m joining it, reluctantly and in a limited way I hasten to add. My first computer was so primitive that if I wanted to spell check my document I would have to press the ‘esc’ button, then ‘ctrl’ L for ‘library’ and then ‘ctrl’ S for ‘spell’. That’s three actions for one outcome. But it made writing easier. I don’t mean that I was more inspired, just that I didn’t have to rewrite each page once it became unreadable because of all the inserts and notations that I made on it. I’m ashamed to admit it but the cut and paste function has become this writer’s best friend. Even those old dinosaurs of limited functions and space were able to go where no biro has gone before. I could see that; what I couldn’t see was the price I would be paying for such convenience.
It’s like when I gave up knitting. Knitting garments was creative and satisfying but buying them was cheaper and took up less time and energy. The solution therefore was a no brainer for a whole generation that gladly dumped the knitting needles in favour of University and careers. There used to be at least one wool shop in every suburb, now most of them are accessible on line. Can you imagine feeling the texture of the wool through the screen? Maybe that’s the next invention.
I’ve written myself a list of positives for both sides.
On the plus side for computers:
A computer cuts down on the time it takes to make revisions
If you are like me and revise every word or sentence dozens of times as you go along, cutting and pasting and inserting are invaluable functions.
Files don’t take up physical space and you needn’t take time away from writing to dust them
You can always find your files when you want to get back to them
The computer made way for the invention of the internet. The internet allows you to do some of your research online
On the plus side for Biros:
A biro saves on electricity
You don’t have to worry biros are charged up
Biros can fit snugly in your hand bag or coat pocket without weighing you down
You can use them anywhere
Biros are cheap to buy and easy to replace
If the computer dies on you, you may have lost your files and you might have to wait until the computer is fixed. If a biro is out of ink you just dip into your stash for the next one and keep going.
Shakespeare wrote perfectly wonderful plays that still speak to us. I suspect that if he’d had the chance to exchange the quill and parchment for a PC or an Apple Mac he would have done it in a heartbeat. It is truly said that however you feel about it you can’t go back. It took me a while but I have finally accepted that. This piece was composed wholly on computer. An indicator of how far I’ve come in my thinking. But I draw the line on iPads and intend to keep writing with pens when not at home. Oh, dear, I’ve had a thought, what if someone gives me an IPad for my birthday?