Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Pen and the Computer

I am an engineer and the product of the digital age. I learned how to properly type in the second grade in computer class. I was the fastest typer in my seventh grade computer class. I received my first laptop when I was fifteen. I am the minute taker for my research team because I can type almost as fast as people can talk. All of this makes me perfectly tuned to writing my novels and my stories on my computer - theoretically.

Unfortunately the theory doesn't hold.

Writing a story on paper versus on the computer is something I've gone back and forth between most of my life. Until I was eighteen, I wrote everything by hand and then typed it into the computer - using this process to create my first revision. Once I got to college and no longer had my parents buying my notebooks I attempted to start writing them on the computer. Recently I started writing a novel in a notebook my sister bought me for my birthday. I wrote the first chapter in the notebook and then thought, I should be able to type the second chapter. So I did. The next day I went back and read the words I had typed and had one thought, "Gross."

This is a common occurrence when I try to type a story. I look at my computerized words and think "I can write better than this. This is awful." Then I look at my handwritten words and think "These are great."

I write better when I hand write things. Years of writing supports this hypothesis. But why? Why is this? Shouldn't it be the same? It's just words.

I type fast, and I think this hurts my writing. When I type, I'm all about getting the story down as succinctly and efficiently as possible. When I write by hand - when the pen flows across the paper writing in cursive in some strange colored pen (probably green or purple) - the words flow beautifully, thoughtfully. I pause to think more. Every stroke of the pen is purposeful, is slow, and is a thought. I write better when I write by hand. I write more beautifully when I write by hand.

I think sometimes we lose sight of the benefits of taking the slow road. We are so quick to go digital because it is more efficient, because its faster. We forget the experience of watching a movie in the theater instead of streaming it to our computer. We forget the tactile experience of actually selecting music when with a touch of a button our iPod can do it for us. We forget that stories are someone's thought child - like Athena is to Zeus - and deserves our full concentration, just not a quick click through.

Maybe next time you read or write you'll take the slow road. Maybe you'll break out the pen and paper. Maybe you'll buy a hardback book instead of an e-book. But then again, maybe you write better when typing, and I guess that's a different thing all together.

For me, I'll keep my pen and paper handy, and continue buying notebooks to write my stories in.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Blogging, Schedules, and Inconsistency

I have been a fairly bad blogger for this sight when it comes to consistency. In the past month I have read far more than one book and yet I didn't post any of it. I received ideas for blog posts in my mind, but nothing came of them. I apologize. School has been absolutely crazy. We had our critical design review for research on March 1. Then came Midterms. Then came spring break - which was anything but a break for this grad student. It seems its always one thing or another.

I promise in the future to be better about blogging things. I'm going to try for a Tuesday/Thursday schedule (discounting book reviews which I post as soon as I finish reading a book). That's not a lot, but its all I can manage while in school. When I'm interning this summer, I will be able to blog more often.

My apologies. I am going to try to type up some more book reviews for the books I've read over the past month tonight. I recently read the entire Percy Jackson series as well as The Last Theorem by Frederick Pohl and Arthur C. Clarke. I might have read some other books as well, so I'll look through my shelves and see.

I hope you're March is going well.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

A Book Review: The Name of the WInd

Title: The Name of the Wind
Author: Patrick Rothfus
Genre: Fantasy
Length: 722

Quality Rating: 9
Content Rating: PG-13

This book came up in conversation with one of my friends, and so I immediately looked into it. All I can really say is that my mind was basically blown. I bought the book on a Friday afternoon and finished it on Sunday afternoon (taking a long Sunday morning break for church, lunch, and handbells rehearsal). This book kept me gripped from beginning to end. For a debut novel, you really can't ask for much more. I look forward to reading the rest of the story - that's a lie - I'm DYING to read the rest of the story. I know great things are on the horizon for Patrick Rothfuss, and I highly encourage you to pick up this book and discover Kvothe for yourself. But to give you a sketchy idea of what it's about - its a man telling his story - a great story of love, adventure, tragedy, music, and knowledge. This first book only covers the first 16 years of the man's life, and it leaves you dying to know the rest.

This book gets a PG-13 rating for some hard truths behind life on the streets as well as violence - both plain violence and fantasy level violence. Language is fairly mild since most curse words in fantasy novels are made up, and there is very little sexual content in this book (though it does have a fair amount of innuendo - and I claim to have only gotten a small portion of it -lol).

All in all, I highly recommend this book.