Saturday, June 2, 2007


No, this is not a photograph of my typewriter. It was the typewriter belonging to Sheldon Vanauken, one of my favorite authors. It is, in fact, the machine on which he typed his bestselling book, A Severe Mercy.

I can't imagine writing a book on a typewriter, let alone writing a book in long-hand. I have seen the manuscript of A Severe Mercy. It was quite a sight to behold. The typing looked much like the typed letters I received from Vanauken during the last year of his life--with his neatly penned notes to himself, or to his editor, in the margins. I think Van liked writing on his typewriter. Whereas C. S. Lewis liked writing with pen and ink. By this method he penned six or seven words at a time, then he had a moment to think about what he was writing and craft his next phrase while dipping the pen in the ink again. Well, I'm sure I'll never be as good a writer as C. S. Lewis, partly because I will never use that method of writing.

I like my computer. I like word processing programs. It took my father many years to convince me of the value of computers; I'm rather a stick-in-the-mud for a man of my era. It takes me a while to latch on to new-fangled things and ideas, if ever I do. But now I like computers. Lewis thought the sound of a typewriter was distracting to the mind of the writer. To me it becomes helpful background noise. I don't even think about the sound, except for right now while I am writing about it!

One reason I really can't imagine writing a book on a typewriter, or by the pen and ink method, is because of all the work that goes into editing. I guess if you are a genius like C. S. Lewis you don't have to worry about that. I have read that he seldom made corrections once he set pen to paper. If you are looking for evidence of this you might want to view his original manuscript of The Screwtape Letters at The New York Public Library. For my part, I am quite happy to edit my writing with a word processor; being able to cut and paste so easily is a heaven-sent gift for a writer.

All that to say, I haven't written any blogs recently because I have been working on editing My Father Was a Gangster. The book is coming along well, shaping up nicely with the help of my editor at Believe Books, and hopefully it will be in print later this year. I'll keep you posted on that. . . .

No comments: