On Sunday I made an appearance at Borders Books and Music right down the road from my school. As always, I spoke for a while, read a little bit from SOMETHING MISSING, took some questions from the audience, recommended a few books, and finished off with a brief signing.
This was my most local appearance so far, just ten minutes from my home, so my wife and daughter were able to attend as well. I can’t tell you how fun it is to see my daughter sitting in the audience, listening to me share stories about the book, even if she spends much of the time babbling and fidgeting in her mother’s arms.
As a result of the bookstore’s proximity to home, there were many recognizable faces in the audience that day. Friends, colleagues, and students (current and former) were mixed in with a few nonpartisans, and it made for a much more informal and casual atmosphere. Adults and kids asked lots of questions, and many of them were quite insightful.
In my last few appearances (including this one), budding writers have been asking me about my writing process, specifically inquiring about my preference of the keyboard versus the pen. While this question seems innocent enough, I’ve gotten a sense that these people are searching for the right answer, longing for the means by which their work might instantly improve.
I’m a keyboard man. Unless I’m writing short poetry, which I will do from time to time (I’m currently working on a poem about a boy named Gilly who tastes his cremated grandfather’s ashes out of curiosity), I am always composing on a laptop. But I don’t think this is necessarily the correct way to write. While I cannot imagine writing fiction longhand, am I expected to believe that Shakespeare’s work would have been any better had he been writing on a MacBook Pro?
I doubt it.
Unfortunately, I don’t think it works that way, and these writers, hoping for a quick and easy solution to their writing struggles, are out of luck.
Unless, of course, you believe Charles Bukowski, who discovered word processing at the age of seventy.