Tuesday Post of Accountability: Some Hands-on Kerouac Learning

It’s Tuesday again! And every Tuesday you will be subjected to regaled by the writing progress I have made over the last week. But! I insist that I not be the only one exposing myself sounding off. Let your comments reflect what kind of suffering butt-kicking you have done too!

Stuff I have accomplished this past week:

1. Finished rewriting the chapter that was giving me such pains last week. Will still have to rework it…but I don’t have to rewrite it at this point. Live long Chapter Eight! Ye pain in the @$$ chapter. (I’m sure that won’t be the only chapter to give me frustrations along the way, but it has created the greatest pains so far — think that could be because when you hit that quarter-in mark things get more complicated so the writing has to do more? I think so.)

2. Did The Great Scroll Experiment! My goal was to write a short story really fast on the typewriter — which is not my normal means of writing. And, since Kerouac did the whole scroll thing so he wouldn’t have to stop and start with all the paper loading, I created a scroll as well. However, I don’t think that Kerouac’s feat can be recreated comfortably by any writer who writes on a computer….

Let me tell you about that. (This will be entertaining both for those of you who wrote research papers and books and whatnot on typewriters and have forgotten the foibles that go along with typewriters and those of you who have never written on a typewriter.)

Okay, so computer writers don’t have to reload paper — so the continuity issue is already fixed for us. We can just type and type to our little heart’s content and not have to worry about the stop-start-stop-start that would hinder Kerouac, who had no word processor. When I switched to the typewriter, I thought I could just go and go and go…but there’s still a stop-start element that I, as a computer writer, did not anticipate.

Automatic returns. Typewriters do not do that. Typewriters beep at you when you reach your margin and you have to hit return to get to the next line. This changes how you work a line. I found myself composing line by line instead of sentence by sentence. I would probably write better poetry on a typewriter than a computer.

Because, let me tell you, my short story did not do so well. Where a scroll and a typewriter for Kerouac made it easier — because it actually sped up the process for him — it slowed me waaaaayyy down. I had to think about what I was doing too much. Plus the typos distracted me. I’m horrible, even with a computer correcting me. (Ask my first readers: Hi Ali! Hi Deb!)

But, there are things to learn from this! For example, I alter the tenses of my sentences often. On a computer, that’s no biggie because you can move the cursor back and delete/adjust accordingly. You don’t get to correct on a typewriter — in fact you can correct less on a typewriter than when you handwrite. I found myself constantly wanting to go back and change something because the second half of my sentence would make no sense…but I couldn’t. The language had to be clear and set in my head before I could write a solid sentence. (Which is also why I’m going to keep going on the typewriter too…it forces me to think clearly and apparently I need practice with that.)
3. I also did critiques for my writer’s group in an experimental fashion. More on that next week, when I see how the results work out!

All right, so that was my educational week. How’d you guys do?

experiments Jack Kerouac The Line the scroll

jenny maloney View All →

Jenny writes dark fiction that her mother hates. Her stories and essays have appeared in Across the Margin, Pantheon, Shimmer, Black Denim Lit, Skive, and others. When she’s not writing her own stuff, she’s reading mysteries for Criminal Element. When she’s not writing fiction or reviews, she’s writing/directing/performing/designing plays at Springs Ensemble Theatre.

1 Comment Leave a comment

  1. Inquiring minds want to know–what is this experimental fashion of critiquing of which you speak? I won't tell anyone else.

    For my part: a bit of scribbling here and there and a lot of work and socializing. The latter seems to have filled the well so I'm cool with that.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: