things I like about writing

by uzwi

When I stopped writing by hand, I became obsessed with the shapes typing made on the page. I developed a fixed idea of how the rhythm of long & short paragraphs affected the way they would be read. I was particularly interested in the look of single sentence paragraphs in relation to the bigger blocks of text around them. I would remove whole sentences if the page made a shape I didn’t like. I always work single-spaced. I hate double spaced typescript. It makes everything look awkward and vague and wrong; a single page of it gives you no idea whatever of the way the sentences are moving. At first I worked with a thousand words to a page of foolscap, no margin; then, as soon as I moved on to word processing, set out to mimic exactly the look of one page of a B-format paperback. I still use single spacing up to the point of delivery; sometimes after, depending on the editor or the venue. It doesn’t hurt to write like this, in a way that suits you; after all, this is you, not someone else. & these days you can turn it into the industry standard at the flick of a switch. Not enamoured of digital writing packages or house styles–especially where they interfere with grammar & syntax or flow-through, which I’ve always spent rather a long time on, even–in fact especially–when it seems otherwise. Nothing goes on to paper since 1987, unless a publisher insists; & as soon as I’ve sold a thing, I throw the drafts and notes away unless there’s some out-take that looks as if it might be useful another time for another thing, which there usually is. The idea is to provide a fully mystified object, like the books you used to take down from the shelves of an old public library–no dust jacket, no blurb, no genre label, no guidance on how to decode, not even, sometimes, a publishing date: just slightly waterstained boards & a novel inside ready to be unwrapped by reading. You’re ten years old & the whole thing just excites you so.