Wednesday, October 27, 2010

your eyes never noticed

Because the typewriter forces me to start all over again once I’m finished. With a computer, you make your changes on the screen and then you print out a clean copy. With a typewriter, you can’t get a clean manuscript unless you start again from scratch. It’s an incredibly tedious process. You’ve finished your book, and now you have to spend several weeks engaged in the purely mechanical job of transcribing what you’ve already written. It’s bad for your neck, bad for your back, and even if you can type twenty or thirty pages a day, the finished pages pile up with excruciating slowness. That’s the moment when I always wish I’d switched to a computer, and yet every time I push myself through this final stage of a book, I wind up discovering how essential it is. Typing allows me to experience the book in a new way, to plunge into the flow of the narrative and feel how it functions as a whole. I call it “reading with my fingers,” and it’s amazing how many errors your fingers will find that your eyes never noticed. Repetitions, awkward constructions, choppy rhythms. It never fails. I think I’m finished with the book and then I begin to type it up and I realize there’s more work to be done. Paul Auster in the Paris Review
Charles Sheeler: Pennsylvania Farmhouse , 1922
Vintage gelatin silver print via Ugly Earring

6 comments:

secret, fragile skies said...

love this. on the computer, it is easy to digress - check blogs, search around. with a typewriter or a notebook, there is only that.

Erica said...

I love the mechanical act of rewriting, rather than tweaking. It feels like I'm back in the act of creating- I print and rewrite and print and rewrite over and over (in between checking blogs and futzing online).

by land by air by sea said...

i remember noticing that i wrote differently when i switched from typewriter to computer...that my actualy voice changed.
perhaps it is in the
s l o w n e s s

that our inner world reveals itself more authentically
beth

Erica said...

Oh, I totally know that feeling. Did you see what he says about pens in this interview?

"A pen is a much more primitive instrument. You feel that the words are coming out of your body and then you dig the words into the page. Writing has always had that tactile quality for me. It’s a physical experience."

What Possessed Me said...

I love the sound of the return on a typewriter. It is the sound of accomplishment - another line stolen from the jaws of writer's block.

Mindy said...

"reading with my fingers” --- with a typewriter ---- A lost art!