No More Arrows and Asterisks
By Yvonne Blake
When I was a schoolgirl, I liked to write. I loved to create my own versions of fairy tales and poetry. Writing my thoughts helped me through the rough teenage years. I found that spiral notebooks were the best. The pages didn’t scatter and get lost in my bedroom jumble, but if I didn’t like the words on a certain page, I could just tear them out and toss them away.
I didn’t make outlines – not really; my thoughts looked more like lists. I usually started with a character and wrote a few sentences about their features or their favorite things. I might draw a map or a house plan. I might write a scene or two, or I might put the main character in a beautiful setting, but before long, my pages would be a mess.
There would be crossed out words or even whole sentences. New thoughts would be squeezed down the side of the page. I would soon have arrows wriggling through the lines, directing myself to insert a forgotten sentence into the middle of a paragraph. There would be numbers down the margin, arranging the plot in a logical order. Asterisks and various symbols would direct me to the bottom of the page. I rarely finished a story (unless it was a homework assignment) because it took so long to rewrite it.
If I’d had a computer when I was a youngster, I probably would have written my novel long ago. Oh the joys of “Backspace” and “Delete” and what fun to see the magic of “Cut and Paste!” I love the ease of moving whole scenes from page to page. It gives me a sense of power!
I love the tools of “spell check” and “auto formatting.” I wonder at the way the computer knows what I want to say and offers to fix it for me. I enjoy the different fonts and colors that help me express different tones and emotions with my words.
I can store my writing in a technical vault and retrieve it to edit or send to a friend. I can carry pages and pages of my work on a little memory stick, plug it into another computer, and continue my writing far from home.
All the wonders of technology are still beyond my understanding, but it has spurred my creative drive into a higher level of putting my thoughts and memories into words. There is so much I want to write, and now I have the tools to do it.