Writing longhand has its uses: more time to think before putting thoughts down, less inclination to edit, and it’s aesthetically pleasing. When the ideas come, I start writing before the inner voice starts telling me that the ideas are stupid. Which they may very well be, but by then I’m no longer inclined to go back. As an aid to the “no plot, no problem” approach, a good notebook (of the sort that discourages page-tearing) is essential. My favorite is from a Japanese company:
I have been hoarding these notebooks for several years now — and this is clearly the moment. The pages are smooth and substantial enough not to have show-through, and because the pages are 7″ x 10″ (and there are only 34 sheets), I can think I’m making measurable progress. Inspiration apparently comes in many different forms …
The Kid is learning to write, which is of course a good thing — even if the topics are hokey and her choices are even hokier: on the topic of “A Special Place,” she chose “Home is a Special Place.” The current assignment? Write an essay on “Someone Who Inspires You” (and not incidentally, tie it to MLK). I happen to think this a silly assignment for the average 7th grader, because the average 7th grader can’t think outside the Inspirational Person = Famous Person equation. For them — and I suspect for many people who ought to know better — “inspirational person” implies the extraordinary and the heroic, and while we need the big dreams and the big achievements, those should not be all that we celebrate. I think the assignment artificial, directional, and dictatorial for what it expects of the kids. My daughter is writing about Wilma Rudolph (again) because: 1) she knows something of her from a biographical report she had to do in 6th grade; 2) she thinks an inspiring person is/should be someone other people have heard of; and 3) she has no clue what “inspirational” actually means and moreover, has no desire to actually think about the concept. I am pretty sure that whatever The Kid chooses to write about Wilma Rudolph, hers is not a life that has ever affected my daughter in any meaningful way. So The Kid will produce an essay that reproduces the facts of Wilma Rudolph’s life that other people have found inspirational, and these facts will be, for her, as ephemeral as most things are at her age. As for the tie-in to Martin Luther King, Jr. — well, let’s just say that I don’t believe she has a good working understanding of civil rights. Aside from that difficulty, I am also against the hagiographic view of MLK taught in middle school — yes, I know that after all she’s only in 7th grade and how much understanding of the nuances of a lived life can a 7th grader have? Which, of course, is my point.