Writing Wednesdays: A poem, by any other hand

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I am a diehard notebook user, but when it comes to writing longform, I can’t get very far without switching to my laptop. In part, this is a matter of physical stamina: not since my blue book days have I written long prose for long stretches (the fingers buckle, the hand cramps).

Cognitively, though, I seem to compose more comfortably in the cut and paste and delete mobility of a keyboard. Writing longhand takes more time, and though I know I should be able to work out the lines in my head in a similar way, I can’t seem to actually do it. And though I’m a fairly unflagging self-editor, I find it harder to follow the lines when everything’s scratched out, circled, or arrow pointed somewhere else.

Do you write full drafts in a notebook? At what point do you switch to a computer?

One thought on “Writing Wednesdays: A poem, by any other hand

  1. Adlestrop is a small English village. 100 years ago, on a hot summer’s day – June 24 – Edward Thomas was on a train from London when it stopped at Adlestrop station. He wrote his thoughts in the field notebook which he always carried. Six months later, recovering from a twisted ankle,he transcribed those notes into another book, with extensive crossings out and alterations.
    If Edward had been able to use a computer we would never be able to see these notebooks. One is in NY Public Library, the other in the Briish Library.
    Like many schoolchildren in Britain, I learnt the poem ‘Adlestrop’ [Yes! All 16 lines of it] which is what those notes became. Edward was killed in action in the First World War in 1919 and never saw his poem published.
    You can find the poem, the story and many photos including the notebook pages in ‘Adlestrop Revisited’by Anne Harvey. There is also a lot of information on the internet. Richard Burton’s reading of it on You Tube is superb.
    If you love the English countryside you will enjoy Adlestrop. I promise you this – even if you think you don’t like poetry yet!
    To answer your question … I compose by hand always, transcribe to computer never. I love my PC for prose but for poetry I can ONLY get the flow and the meanings by hand.

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