Thursday, March 08, 2007

Just call me low-tech Echols

When I was a teen reading YA novels, I pictured Lois Duncan and Paula Danziger starting on page 1 and happily typing all the way through to page 300. My own writing process has not turned out this neatly. I tend to start on page 1, jump to 300, muddle about in the 200s, and write a clean final draft of pages 59 to 94 before finally making it back to 2. Also, I write everything out longhand before I type it in.

My longhand habit began with my first novel. I started this novel in a creative writing class at Auburn University and finished it at my first job after college, as a copyeditor for the Montgomery newspaper. Every day on my dinner hour, I would walk a few blocks to sit on the steps of the Alabama state capitol building, eat a peanut butter sandwich I’d brought from home, and write. I didn’t buy my first computer until revising this novel on a typewriter nearly drove me insane.

Now I have a laptop, but I still feel much more comfortable writing longhand. For instance, here’s a page from THE BOYS NEXT DOOR, coming out in early summer. Pink, red, and purple ink on one page--I change ink colors when I get stuck, so this must have been a bad day.

Here’s a good day--pages and pages and pages of orange.

Uh-oh, heart doodles! This means I was stuck in the second degree.

Third-degree stuck: star doodles! Something in the book didn't make sense to me logically, so I drew nice neat five-point stars and hoped my brain would follow.

And this? Wow. A psychologist would have a field day.


Little Willow said...

Lois Duncan! Paula Danziger! Good times, good times. (I still want to find a copy of IKWYDLSummer with the original cover.)

Yay for longhand. :)

Jennifer Echols said...

The best imho is Five Were Missing, which apparently has been reissued as Ransom.

Anonymous said...

Those pages actually look like something from my journals. I use a different color ink for each entry.

cchant said...

OMG, we're more alike than I thought. I've recently returned to the longhand method (purple pen), right now using a tiny moleskin notebook I received as a Christmas gift. So far so good! I'm producing pages (which is more than I was doing before staring at the blank computer screen and bemoaning my lack of progress.)

Cathy :-)

Wendy Toliver said...

Love your visuals! Too funny!

Caroline Goode said...

I agree on the great visuals. I often write in longhand in spiral-bound notebooks, skipping lines to have room for corrections, but you take this great tradition to new heights!

Micol Ostow said...

Hilarious. I can't write longhand, but I am a master list-maker. Color-coded and everything. We must be long-lost cousins.

Kelly McClymer said...

I long to be you (and have since kindergarten) ... but I haven't got the patience to find the pens under the couch, desk, table, etc. So I grab whatever dull color is handy when I'm writing long hand.

Thanks for sharing this process!