The above is our second and shy third cherry blossoms this spring–less one petal. The first blossom fell to the recent cold front that also sent blizzard Stella roaring into the northeast. The weather has warmed. Robins peck about in the yard. Along the fence, buttercups dip and rise with a warm breeze. Overhead white clouds glide across a light, blue sky. Soon there will be hundreds of cherry blossoms.
The cherry blossom holds a great deal of symbolic significance in Japan. It signifies, among other things, impermanence–the transient nature of life. Thinking along these lines the other evening, while drinking a glass of wine and watching clouds, I pondered the issue of instant technology as it relates to the lengthy process of writing. I felt quite philosophical at the time. It could have been the wine. Maybe it was the clouds
I’m over halfway done with my novel, but for the past two weeks, I’ve been stuck on a difficult scene. I keep deleting and rewriting. I know. I know. I’m supposed to get it down on paper. Well, screw all that. I couldn’t let this scene go without its being at least half-way right.
Essentially as I write my first draft, I do a good bit of rewriting and indeed, revision. For instance, let’s say I’ve just finished Chapter 15. I realize that Chapter 14 doesn’t ring true. I scroll back and in the most severe case, rewrite the whole chapter, or I might simply revise one or two passages. And then on to Chapter 16. Since this is a first draft, I find myself punching the DELETE key—a lot.
When I have a complete first draft, I print out the whole thing. Then, I edit—with a pencil. Once edited, I return to the computer and type in the marked-up manuscript. Once done I let it sit for a few weeks and allow it to simmer–then I print out the second draft and start over.
This back and forth process can go on for several months, or God forbid, years. The point is, I end up printing out numerous versions. How many copies—versions—do I print? Four, five, six, ten! They pile up like the very tower of Babble, reaching hopelessly to Heaven.
My question is this: With our computer circuitry that operates in nano-seconds, does it take looonger than before the hi-tech revolution to write three pages? Do we use a hundred times more paper?
How does the cherry blossom figure into all this? Beats me. It was pretty.
So, what are your thoughts? Is our belief that technology makes writing go faster an ironic illusion? Without our realizing it, does the computer slow us down?