Concrete Detail

Erika Hayes, Author – Write like a reader, read like a writer and edit like a beast!


You know I am hand lettering fan, and I love to make handmade cards (former life, remember?) Today, I started thinking about the beauty in handmade.  How it applies to writing.  I mean that’s what I love doing, and isn’t’ every story crafted handmade?  There was a time when gifts and most things were all handmade, and greatly appreaciated for the time and love that went into creating them.

Before the keyboard became so very commonplace it was a typewriter that was the best friend of a writer.  Prior to the typewriter, authors scribbled out their stories in a journal and on paper, they were turned over for a publisher to typeset and print.  Oh, how the world has changed.

I  began to think of the movie You’ve Got Mail.  At the beginning of the movie, Meg Ryan’s beau, a journalist, played by Greg Kinner, clings to the past even going so far as to collect his favorite typewriter, the 1980 Olympia Report Delux.  What his character understands is the world is swiftly moving toward computers.  He takes a moment in the film and describes the joy of hearing the clacking of the keys and the feel of the paper as he puts it in the machine.  The hum it makes.  Ryan smiles and placates him.  Being a lover of books surely she sympathizes with his love for this typewriter.   Ryan, Hanks and the rest the world is engaged the new technology, computers are now in every home, and while Fox Books is also trouncing over her little bookstore in the name of progress,  she embraces that part of technology yet fights the idea of the box store.  Stating it doesn’t offer expertise.

In fact, You’ve Got Mail is a remake of the movie Shop Around the Corner (1940) starring Jimmy Stewart and Margaret Sullavan. The movie was based on a screenplay by Miklós László. The story is much the same, Stewart is corresponding with a mystery woman and as the time draws near, he discovers Sullavan is the girl. Well, you’ll need to watch the movie to see it unfold. Updated with the introduction of the internet being the mail delivery system, You’ve Got Mail tells much the same story but brings it into a modern setting.  Interestingly, Tom Hank’s grandfather played by John Randolph makes reference to the movie Shop Around the Coner when he reminisces about a better time, “Celia, lovely woman, we exchanged letters once.”

I wonder, as we move further into the modern era, will writers one day simply speak the books into existence?  Will some of us hold tightly to the index cards and sticky notes that we hold so dearly now?

I still enjoy writing on paper.  There is nothing like a fresh notebook and a good pen.  Placing each stroke with care as I dig into the words that will form a new world for my readers.  While the world zooms past looking for the better way, is it possible we’ve lost some of the charms of putting pen to page?  What happens when we type at 75wpm and are not slowing down to digest our word choice?   Are we missing the things our characters want to say?  It’s possible in a fourth even fifth pass in editing we will hear that voice.

I love my computer, in fact, when I sit down to work on my novel I often hit and surpass the goals I’ve set for that session.  It’s a good feeling to finish with a lot of words on the page.  Though I wonder, would I benefit from a little more exchanging of letters?

One thought on “Shop Around the Future

  1. Love how you reference ‘You’ve Got Mail’ and wrote that it is actually a remake. That, I didn’t know. I never gave it a thought, actually. I do remember those type writers. Do you remember a sitcom called ‘Perfect Strangers’? It was about a journalist who had a cousin from a foreign country called Mypos. It reminded me of the type writer episode.

    I no longer write in pen and paper because my handwriting is impossible to comprehend these days, especially because I tend to write in cursive. But, yes, I do like the feel of writing on paper better.

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