“A writer is not so much someone who has something to say as someone who has found a process that will bring about new things he would not have thought of if he had not started to say them. That is, he does not draw on a reservoir, he engages in an activity.”
– William Stafford
I was twelve years old, and I was sitting in the sunroom in the apartment that my family rented, at 3305 Harriet Avenue, in South Minneapolis.
The sun room was in the front of the house, just off the living room, on the other side of a set of French glass doors, and adjacent to a three-season porch.
I was sitting in the sunroom, on a wooden chair, a library chair with my hands at a typewriter that I had set up on a folding table, a T.V. stand, that had once belonged to my grandmother Audry, my mother’s mother.
There were other people home. The oldest of my three older sisters, Ann was visiting. She was in the room with me, and she was talking to me about what I was doing. I was beginning to write a book, the first of many books that I began to write but never finished.
It was the Spring of 1981, I was finishing the sixth grade at Lyndale elementary. I was an avid reader. I was beginning work on my own novel, something in the tradition of The Lord of the Rings, or The Chronicles of Narnia, both of which I had read multiple time already.
I was typing.
For the next fifteen years my writing drifted back and forth from typewriter, to notepad to keyboard to note pad.
I do most of writing at the key board now.
When I write with pens or pencils, or a stylus of any kind, I use a backward grip, like a lefty.
It is possible that I was left handed once, because there are other things that I do with that part of my brain; shoot pool, throw darts etc…I might have been one of those lefty kids that was forcibly corrected to the mainstream.
With a note pad at my desk, and a pen in my hand, the writing flows vertically, as if I am pushing the words out, and away from me.
I get some pleasure from writing by hand.
As I have said, I mostly write at the keyboard.
The percussive feeling of typing, of striking the keys, of pushing the buttons is more comforting than pleasing.
It is comforting and familiar to brush my finger tips across the board, to press the desired character, to see it in the corner of my eye, appear on the screen.
On those rare moments that I am writing with pen and paper, sitting at a café, composing my thoughts and musings, that pleasurable sense is akin to nostalgia, a reminiscence that flows over me when I draw out the letters, to illustrate the words, to form sentences in a large flowing script.
It is like the airing out of a dusty room. The cobwebs in my mind are gathered and removed with the point of the instrument.
I write on a computer.
I keep my files in the cloud.
I have a lap-top, but I use a full size keyboard and mouse.
On a shelf by the side of desk are three containers full of pencils and pens, and a notepad on my desk just sitting there like a security blanket.
I have push pins at hand, Scotch tape, 3 x 5 cards, yellow post it notes, paper clips, and other clips, tacks, staples, a stapler and other scraps of paper.
I have all the tools I need for note taking or composition.
I have visual aids to remind me of what processes I will employ, what structures I want to adhere to. They are taped at eye level right in front of my face, and on either side of my monitor.
This place I have constructed for my imagination has changed much since I was a child, and was first learning to read and write, first learning the nature and use of symbols for the mind.