Back In the Day
Taking a short break here from fantasy to step into the real world for a short post.
When I first started writing my first Magiskeep novel back in 1984, I did not have a computer. The computer age was in its infancy. I do recall I may have had a word processor, and definitely an electric typewriter, but my main writing tool was a ball point pen.
For some reason, I found steno pads to provide the perfect paper. They were easy to carry around and often, I'd have one with me almost all the time in case inspiration arose.
Kingdom Beyond the Rim was handwritten in longhand the first time out. I think the original version was about two hundred pages. It was the same basic story, but lacking in detail. It was as if I had written an outline of a book rather than a novel. Still, at some point, I typed it up and sent it to a publisher.
Rejection letter later, I consulted a professional writer I know and soon the two of use were honing a new version of the book. Bart Jackson, a successful author himself, had good insight into some of the finer points of writing, especially in fleshing out characters and scenes with active, vivid description. I learned quite a bit of writing craft from him and after editing perhaps a third of the novel under his watch, I returned to working on it myself.
At some point, the computer took the place of the steno pads. I need to search my pile of pads to see if I can figure out when that was, but once I had the bare bones of the novel typed up into a computer file, editing and rewriting became a cinch. Gone were the days of whiteout, typeovers, and carbon paper.
Two days ago, I was struck with a confusing computer malfunction that disabled my keyboard. My computer ended up with the computer Geeks at Best Buy for repair and recovery. (Fortunately, the story should have a happy ending, as the strange problem turned out to have a simple solution.)
It's only when you lose something that you begin to realize how dependent you have become on it. I have little slips of note paper all over the place now--here at my computer desk where the temporary laptop replacement sits, and in the back pockets of several pairs of jeans. When I had no computer to write with, I resorted to paper and pen--any slip of paper would do when inspiration struck.
Considering that I'm not quite sure where all the little slips of paper are, I'm beginning to think I should have traveled further back in my writing history to satisfy my creative urges.
I think I still have a few memo pads lying around.