Nicola Vincent-Abnett

Nicola Vincent-Abnett
"Savant" for Solaris, Wild's End, Further Associates of Sherlock Holms, more Wild's End

Friday 15 June 2012

Delete, delete, delete...

Most people write too much, and most of the too much they write is shit.
It is infinitely more difficult to hold a writing implement, a pen or pencil, and make words longhand than it is to type them out on some sort of keyboard or other, even if your keyboard skills are non-existent... Admit it, they are, aren’t they?
What most so-called writers forget is that it is also just as easy to eradicate words typed into some sort of word processing package.
In the old days, when I began writing with a pen and paper, before what we called ‘white-out’ or ‘snow-paque’, in the era of the ink eraser, which didn’t erase, and in the age of the teacher who not only commanded, but also managed to get some damned respect for heaven’s sake... In the old days, the most efficient way to delete unwanted words was simply to strike a line through them. That’s what I was told to do at school, and that’s what I did.
Our orange school pencils with the paint shaved off at the blunt ends so that our teacher could ink our names into the wood, making the things undeniably the responsibilities of individuals until they were nothing more than nubs, were rubber-less, so, even before we graduated to ink pens, and we never did progress to biros, not until the 80s anyway, we did not erase our words, we simply struck them through. There was always a record of what had gone before.
We considered what we wrote. We didn’t simply vomit up every last word in no particular order for messing about with later. We stopped and thought. We didn’t suck the ends of our pencils, or, heaven forfend, chew them, because that, too, was forbidden. We sat quietly, and we thought about what we wanted to write down, and when we had ordered our thoughts we committed them to paper, and there they remained, essentially, forever.
There is a very great deal to be said for restraint, for the long pause.
In an ideal world there would be a very great deal to say for the delete key, but almost everyone is too damned scared to use the bloody thing. 

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