The Analog Method

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The typewriter is a 1938 Corona Silent.

It’s a beautiful machine, although I’d prefer a 60’s model with a lighter touch– this one requires some vigorous whacking.

I’m trying to move my writing process from digital to analog, or at least semi-analog.

Why? Because I look at a computer all day at work, and don’t want to stare at an LCD screen at home. Because Internet connectivity is the death of concentration. Really, that’s it. Also, typing is fun; clacky and ink-smelling and tactile.

In the digital age, though, you have to make some concessions. You have to email your stuff to magazines. You need to format nicely. So the semi-analog method goes like this:

    1. Compose the story on the typewriter. Whack the keys. Get ink on your mitts. Do lots of drafts. Get the story to about the 7/10 done phase.
    2. Make sure you date-stamp every page of type at the top. Otherwise, you’ll lose track of which version is which.
    3. Your version to be scanned should be pretty free of XXX’s and typos, but doesn’t have to be perfect.
    4. File the paper copy in a filing cabinet. Give each story its own manila folder with title and date. (You should probably alphabetize the folders, but I can’t be bothered.)
    5. Scan the document and use one of the many OCR scan-to-text programs out there to make it into a Word document. The good OCRs will render it surprisingly error-free.

Send the document to your computer. Now you can use your skiving-off time at work to correct any OCR errors, monkey with the story, make little edits, polish it up.

This method gives you the best of both worlds. You get the old-fashioned distraction-free typewriter-composing (and it’s not much more labor intensive than working on the computer). Then you can do final edits using all the convenient MS Word tools.

Manual typewriter: that’s reportedly how Cormac McCarthy writes his spare, wrenching novels, one of which contains a translucent moose. I’m no Cormac, of course, and I haven’t yet managed to get a convincing moose into a story, translucent or opaque. But I’m hoping to make typewriter-composition work for me long-term.

Speaking of Cormac, the story I just sold to Daily Science Fiction was supposed to be a sendup of “The Road.” I thought my story was funny; but now it seems that readers are taking it seriously, and they are not finding the chuckles in scenes of child-cannibalism that I do.  It’ll be out sometime late this year, you can judge for yourself then.  Doesn’t Plato say that the author is the last person you should ask to interpret a work of art? Authors know nothing. It’s a reader’s world.

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