Sometimes when I’m writing I stop to think how easy the physical part of the process is these days.
When I first started trying to write I wrote with a biro on a what used to be called a reporter’s pad.
This wasn’t easy, so I got myself a parker fountain pen and a nice hardbound notebook.
It still wasn’t easy, so I borrowed my dad’s ‘Brother Portable Typewriter.’
If anything, this was even more difficult than writing with the biro.
Luckily, at this point I moved to New York.
Even though the typewriter was called a ‘portable,’ and even though it was the smallest of small typewriters, it was too weighty for my carry-on baggage to JFK, so it remained in Camden Town (where it may still be).
Soon after this I began dating a young woman who had a laptop with an astounding whole megabyte of memory.
I borrowed the laptop, the physical process became a breeze, and a moment later I discovered that the reason that writing was difficult had nothing to do with the physical process of writing, and everything to do with the mental process.
Now, even with an iMac I still find writing difficult.
Sometimes I look at my students when I’ve just set them a writing prompt. The room is quiet, and they’re just writing.
During class most of them write with a ballpoint pen on notepaper.
While I’m looking at them I wonder if any of them ever pause to think about the typewriters that were used to write most of the books they have to read for their literature classes.