Wouldn’t Take Nothing For My Journey Now 3

Writing a book is an exercise in creativity and exploring your imagination, pondering what if moments from some of the simplest things – be it the sound of laughter, an article you read in the newspaper or magazine, overhearing a conversation, or the words from a bumper sticker.  Authors are inspired by a song on the radio, part of a sermon, conversations with friends and family, standing in line at the grocery store, or a dream.The easiest part of being an author is writing the book.  I know that sounds crazy to say that to write something that is over 10, 50, or 100 pages is easy, but it’s true.  It’s easy to create a story and explore those parts of your mind that think such crazy thoughts that if you spoke aloud, people might think you’re crazy.  So instead, write a book, create a character and have him or her say it.

Writing is a solitary effort.  It’s just you and your brain with either a pen and paper or the computer.  And here is where I give so much respect to pioneer authors who were writing before Bill Gates came along with MS Word.  I remember how hard it was to write a report in junior high and senior high school on a typewriter.  Pecking at the keys and cursing everything in creation every time you typed the wrong letter.  And heavens to Betsy on that whole rolling a sheet of paper in and making sure you had one inch margins and that the paper went in correctly. Not to mention doing the calculations to center words on a page.  If you were in my era, you had white out or maybe even correcting ribbon.  But can you imagine what Mildred Taylor went through writing Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry or Beverly Cleary writing her first book?

Last year, an English teacher told me that she read somewhere that it took Richard Wright over ten years to write either Black Boy or Native Son.  And I believe it.  Both of his books are literary icons with pages and pages of exquisite narration, but imagine typing an entire book on a typewriter. 

And here’s where it gets tricky.  Thanks to MS Word, we can go back and magically insert text when we realize we want to elaborate more on a point.  Or say something that we wrote on page 15 fits better with what is written on page 86.  Instead of doing a literary version of Mapquest with arrows and circles all over the place, we can cut and paste as much text as we want to without any great pains.

I imagine Richard’s rough draft has arrows and circles with notes to self to move X paragraph to Y page.  All hail technological advancements and the pioneers who paved the way!


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