Pen or Computer?

Irony number one: My favorite way to write is with a pen, and…I’m writing you this information with a computer.

Irony number two: The image with which I chose to illustrate this post is my romantic ideal of what writing with a pen would be…IF I happened to have a Schaeffer fountain pen handy at the appropriate times.  What I usually write with is a plastic ink pen I find strewn about on the hall floor of the university where I teach.  If I’m lucky, the casing only has a few cracks caused by the pressure of who knows how many students shoes.  We’re a land grant university…it could also have traces of cow manure.

But regardless of the two ironies accompanying this line of thought, there are distinct differences in my psyche between pen and computer that will keep my feet firmly on PEN every time.

When I write with a computer, I push all my words out of my fingers, channeled from my brain and generally sent out for the public-at-large to do with them what they will.  As the word-stream rushes from my brain, down my spine, through my arms and out my fingers, I backtrack. I re-read.  I change, rethink, change and possibly go back.

The path toward the destination of my last line, if traced, would look like a dung-beetle trail in a sandy lot.  Circle-y. Hesitant. Changing.  Smudged; sometimes happenstance.

But when I write with a pen, the words leave my brain, they pass through my heart, and they come out the tip of my pen in a focused stream of consciousness that is more sure.  Solid. Pure. Heady. Confident.

With a keyboard, I outline throughout the process pushing with my fingers.  With a pen, I think first, write second.  And, I always write TO a person.  If it is a journal, I write TO History.  If it is a letter, I write TO the full essence of that Person I hold dear enough to spend my time for them.  If it is toward a purpose, then I write TO that future Hope.

In other words, I write words for others from my computer. But in other-other words, I write my only real words with a pen.

Irony number three: I don’t like this essay because I wrote it on a computer.  I’m going out to my hall to look for a pen on the floor. And then I’m going to write something…pure.


Post Illustration Photo by TMAB2003




4 thoughts on “Pen or Computer?”

  1. I just put a post on my blog, Endpaper Review, about this very subject. I love writing with my Marlen fountain pen. The words flow with the ink and I feel an “attachment” to what I’m writing. But go one step further… Write with a typewriter. A big, hulking, heavy typewriter. The sounds of the keys striking the page, the bell, the “noise” of writing. It’s perfect for creative thinking. I keep a typewriter at the end of my desk with a piece of paper rolled into it, for when inspiration strikes. I scoot a few feet and I’m writing! No searching for a pen, or waiting for the computer to boot up.

    Dick Loftin

    1. Hi, Dick – Have you seen the film, “Finding Forrester?” I love the scene where the mentor begins yelling at the student to “punch the keys, g-d-it!!” It’s a wonderful illustration to your comment… Thanks for your thoughts! ~ RDK

    1. Dear Fizzle:

      I truly thank you for directing me to that rich resource of thoughtful discourse over the subject at hand. Get it? “Hand?”

      Bless you. It was a wonderful journey of thought, putting into analytical prose what I was describing with much less time and effort.

      ~ RDK

Comments are closed.