Writer’s Craft # 126 – Treasures on Paper
Holly Jennings writes speculative fiction from her home in Tecumseh, Ontario. She has appeared in Daily Science Fiction, AE Sci-Fi Canada, and elsewhere. For more, visit www.hnjennings.com or follow her as she attempts to understand twitter @HollyN_Jennings.
When Lynda first asked me to write an article about the richness of writing in notebooks, I felt my stomach twist from the dirty, little secret I’d kept hidden from other writers for years. So now, I stand — or rather sit — before you to confess my greatest literary guilty pleasure.
I prefer the computer to the notebook.
As someone who enjoys painting, the blank screen reminds me of a canvas full of possibilities while a spiraled, ruled notebook reminds me of school and homework. I crave 1” margins, perfect Courier text, and double spacing on demand the way most people crave their double tall macchiatos with extra foam (Sprinkled cinnamon on top? Really, what were you thinking?). And yet, I’ve found an undeniable fault with my love for all things digital: it’s way too easy to hit the delete button.
If a story I write doesn’t sell in six months, it ends up nestled between My Computer and Internet Explorer: inside the Recycle Bin. I’ve tried battling my compulsive need to digitally erase my rejections, failures, and do-overs. I even created a scrap folder for retired stories titled Don’t delete or the ice caps will melt and you’ll be living that horrible dystopian tale you wrote every day. Needless to say, it was to no avail (so get your life rafts ready).
In 2011, when I was packing to move back to my hometown, I came across an old banker’s box stuffed in the corner of my office closet. Inside, I found notebook after notebook filled with stories and half-finished chapters from my pre-laptop years. I had unearthed a custom-made time capsule, a treasure chest of themes, characters and ideas that were important to me a decade ago, and some that still are today.
I recently completed work on my first novel, which ended up a mishmash of the old and the new, fresh premises combined with characters created during my first incursions into writing. Had I typed these original story nuggets, they’d now be forever lost in the black hole of deleted Word .docs and corrupted .txt files, and I may have never found my way home — both in city and in spirit. So as much as I love my computer, there is one truth I just can’t deny…
I owe a lot to the notebook.
What story gems have you uncovered in your old notebooks?