I am a fountain pen user. It isn’t snobbery or a desire to show off. I can’t write with a biro or roller ball. My writing becomes squashed and flat and the loops of my bastardised copperplate resemble the squashed flies of a garibaldi biscuit. In the absence of a fountain pen I use pencil, always.
When I write notes and ideas for books, stories, blogs, in fact anything at all including weekly menu plans, shopping lists and instructions to my children about feeding animals, watering veg. seedlings and waiting in for the electrician so that we don’t have to eat in the dark, I always write by hand.
When I write stories, novels or blog posts, anything that is going to leave my house, I type. I am fortunate in that my mother was a very forward thinking woman. I wanted to be an actress; my first job was with a small touring theatre company set up by an exiled black South African Alton Kumalo. It was clear I was not going to make much of a living wage and wisely noticing that temps earned more than waitresses my mother paid for me to go on a shorthand and typing course.
I loved shorthand; I had speeds of around 90-95wpm. Typing was less attractive. We were made to copy type a foreign language we couldn’t speak (to avoid make assumptions about the letters that came next). I typed in German and the girl next to me typed in Spanish. Occasionally we swapped so that we could be out in time for an extended break in the Italian coffee shop next door. The coffee was great, the waiters were better.
It never occurred to me that the ability to touch type would be so useful; this was an era long before computers. Heck in my first job I had an electronic typewriter; I thought I had died and gone to heaven. Shorthand remained incredibly useful, for taking notes, for writing things down I didn’t want anybody else to read and for generally showing off. Then in 1991 we bought a pc. Our translation business was taking off and we needed to be able to communicate directly with our clients in France. We were the proud possessors of a CompuServe email address and I learned to send files by direct modem transfer (anyone else remember TTY?) And so I typed more and more.
I have no idea what my speed is now. I am long past the days when I have to go into an agency and do shorthand and typing test in order to garner a job to keep the wolf from the door until the next acting job comes along. Typing is second nature to me. I do it all the time.
I cannot imagine handwriting a story or a novel, yet I cannot imagine typing the notes that I need for that story. I don’t wonder why, I have stopped questioning. Now I go with the flow, if it works then don’t fix it.