Sunday, March 04, 2007, 4:05 PM

A couple of weeks ago, I made a bargain with my shrink: I would write a page of something at least once a day. Grocery lists don't count, nor does aimless scribbling of my name or the days of the week, even if I do love writing the number five, Tuesday and sometimes, Saturday if the S is smooth and equally proportionate.

I used to handwrite everything. I still have a callus on the middle finger of my right hand from where I held my pencil in a death grip, even though I haven't handwritten anything substantial in over fifteen years. I preferred light-lead pencils that were little more than stubs. They fit in my hand perfectly and I could easily write for hours, forgetting that I was writing. I miss the smell of pencil lead and shavings, but I don't miss the pain in my hand or fingers or neck or back. Yet, I used to be able to forget all of that while writing and oh, those magical days of complete concentration when I could write with abandon, without worrying about how the words read! I know most of it was awful now, but back then the writing gave me a sense of completion that nothing or no one else could. Now it's a struggle even to write a paragraph, even though I know I'm a much better writer. My internal editor is no longer my friend, it is my worst enemy ... and it doesn't like sugar lumps, my singing or this chair I'm sitting in.

When I used to handwrite my stories, I began by copying the last page written so that I would get caught back up in the story. In this way I could tighten what I'd written and make it better, which spurred me on. I also had this thing about my pages being neat; if I had to change a paragraph too much (erase it more than once, or draw lines through it), I'd rewrite the entire page. My letters, my handwritten print, had to be neat. I took pride in it.

It's different on a computer. I can write faster, move one paragraph to another page in less time than it used to take to wad up a piece of paper. It's easier to write on a computer, but not necessarily better, though I won't go back to handwriting. For one thing, I don't have the right kind of pencil and for me, the pencil is all. I also don't have the college-rule notebook paper with the faint colored lines, nor the right table height. So I guess it's the computer monitor and keyboard for me, and a driving need for The End or bust.

Save the cheerleader, save the world.

On to page 25.

4 Did the Unhingey Jiggy Engage in Unhingenosity
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