I started writing fiction while I was still up to my eyeballs in a stressful day job. As a matter of fact, I wrote so much non-fiction as a small part of the job I qualified for Professional Writer status through the Canadian Authors Association. After a long day at work, I’d go home and start writing for the pleasure of writing, and not because I had to.
I started thinking the other day about how much my writing process has changed over the years. What got me diverted was the novel I’m currently working on. I’ve started with a beginning and an ending, but the great middle is a dark and unknown continent. I keep having to go back and scatter clues, check spelling of names (characters, highways, etc.) and generally do a massive amount of changing and inserting as I go.
Which brings me to how I used to write a novel.
I’d start with a lined notebook and a pen. I’d fill several notebooks. Then I got an ancient manual typewriter. This was my introduction to white-out. You make a mistake, or decide on a correction on the typewritten page, and voila, bring out the white-out. It came as either a strip you could type on over the change, or a liquid you dripped on the sin, making certain not to put on too much or you ruined your ribbon.
Then I advanced to a second-hand electric typewriter. This was not as difficult for me as for those who might not be able to keep up with the increase in speed. I was, and still am, a two-fingered typist, which suits me just fine. I type at about the same speed as I plot so everything works out.
I won some money on a Grey Cup Ticket (Canadian Football Championship) and went out and purchased a Commodore64 computer, complete with a box of 5” floppy discs. What a great technological leap forward! I still have two novels that never graduated from the 64, but I do have hard copy. Someday I will have to sit down and transcribe them into Word, manually, changing them drastically as I go, being very early works in my writing career.
When I retired from the daily slog, I took up writing fulltime and on a modern laptop too. (Well, it was modern, back then.) Now I can glory in making as many changes as my little black heart desires, check the spelling of my characters’ names, and insert those brilliant chunks of dialogue I create while on my early morning walks.
I still have the handwritten notebooks around here somewhere, and the floppies, although the Commodore64 is hiding in the garage. The typewriters have gone to wherever typewriters go, hopefully not spending their remaining years as boat anchors. I now have three laptops, (one is a little netbook) and can write on the road. Just as well, given the amount of stuff I’ve churned out in recent years. My process has come a long way since those early workbooks. What works best for you?
The Dark Lady Trilogy (Volume 1,2,3)The Queen’s Pawn (Volume 1,2,3)
The Housetrap Chronicles (Volumes 1 to 7 with #8 due out in March)
Alex in Wanderland,