Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Wot the Dickens? (groan)

Well, I've -

Had a birthday (21 again)

Painted the bedroom (twice - the first shade of yellow I'd picked made my eyes hurt. A classic case of a colour not doing what it said on the tin!)

Worked overtime at the library (people are still dropping like flies with The Bug).

And now it's back to my Favourite Thing...fannying about on the computer. I accidentally came across an article about Charles Dickens. I was meant to be looking up how to convert American cups into English ounces for a nice cake recipe, but got lost on the way. Anyway, it made me wonder. How in hell's fiery furnace would I have managed to do any writing at all in that era? There am I, messing abart wiv me "chapters in progress" - cutting and pasting, deleting and inserting, editing and elaborating, finding and replacing at leisure - and there he was, bless him - desperately working from 8.30 am to 1pm, to make the most of what natural light there was...using a quill. A quill, for god's sake!! Can you imagine? Yet he managed to write about 27 books and only ever missed two deadlines, and one of those was because he died. Which as good an excuse as any I could have come up with.

I used to get annoyed using a typewriter, years ago, because I'd make so many mistakes and use so much correction fluid that my pages always looked like a seagull with the runs had flown overhead. I rarely sent anything out, because it never looked up to scratch - plus my stories were rubbish, but that's incidental. So, how I'd have managed with a quill, some splodgy ink and no electric, I've NO IDEA. Having said least there weren't any distractions, I suppose. He just got on with it. Wonder how he'd have fared these days, with t'Internet at his fingertips? I like to think he'd have spent his days looking for blotters on e-bay and researching his family tree.

Jane Austen's handwriting was annoyingly neat, for someone who didn't have access to gel pens and those rollerball thingies that glide across the page, and those space-age pens you can write upside down with. I don't suppose she ever got so annoyed that her pen had run out of ink and she couldn't find another one, that she got a pencil and scribbled really hard over everything she'd written, until the page ripped and then hurled it on the someone I could mention. Not me.

Eeh - we don't know we're born, as m'gran would have said. And did, frequently.

On a completely different note, I was passed this rather lovely award from the fabulous Lane, which made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. I'm going to pass it on to Cally Taylor, because her's was the first blog I ever came across, after typing Writers Writing about Writing into Google (look, I was young and naive and still looking for the Magic Formula okay?) and it was so interesting and fun that I kept on reading. Still waiting for the Magic Formula though ;)

Actually, I think I know what it is.

I just need to buy a quill.


CTaylor said...

Awwww. That's so lovely. You just made my day. Thank you :o)

Alis said...

A quill...! Geez, why didn't I think of that? but can you get ones which are Mac and PC-compatible?

Tom Foolery (TF) said...

Belated happy birtday wishes to you. It's strange to think we have gone from quills to the WWW in such a short time. I wonder how much technology will move on in the next century ?
(For a limited period I have pasted the little red bicycle video on my blog) TFX

SpiralSkies said...

Happy belated birthday!

Ah, I'd spend all my writing time washing ink off me fingers if I had to quill.

I get in a big enough mess with the laptop and biccies, ,come to think of it.

Casdok said...

Congratulations on your award!
And a belated happy birthday!!

HelenMH said...

I love the story about how the Bronte's used to read books in German propped up on the kitchen table while they made bread! We do have it easy in so many ways.

Maddie Moon said...

Belated birthday greetings, Karen, and congratulations on your lovely award.

Moondreamer said...

How lovely! Congratulations, Karen!

Hope you had a wonderful birthday.

I had a tin of yellow paint like that once. It was called 'Energise' and well-named. It made me feel like I imagine the crew of Star Trek feel when they are being transported (I believe it involved the cells of the body parting company and joining up again somewhere else!)


womagwriter said...

A quill! Best grab hold of that incontinent seagull next time it flies over, then.

Happy Birthday, 21-year old!

Poetess said...



FPDuck said...

Happy Birthday!

And another case for getting 'Match Pots' before you buy the paint.

I actually have a quill (one with a metal nib though, but close enough), but no ink! Aside from the fact that writing paper decent enough to use proper ink pens on is hard to find, and expensive.


P.S. As for Gordon Bennett, he urinated in the fire place in front of all the engagement party guests. After arriving drunk, that is. It wasn't the only thing he did that caused him notoriety...


Lane said...

Hope you hada good birthday. You must be almost 27 now:-)

I remember visiting Jane Austen's house and seeing her little teeny tiny notebooks. She must have filled hundreds of them to write just one book. Imagine what she could have done with a lappie:-)

Debs said...

Happy birthday and congratulations on the award.

I would take forever if I had to use a quil, never mind all the corrections, what a nightmare. What a mess. I would be lost without cutting/pasting etc.

L-Plate Author said...

Yes indeed a happy birthday to you!

I have a problem with yellow at the moment in my kitchen where it looks more like a garish buttercup field than any bright summer's day. Well, it does on most walls and then as an added 'feature' we painted two small 'bits' of wall, em, extremely burnt orange. Am now ripping off the whole lot and starting again, going back to the original cream. What on earth possessed us?


cally - You're welcome :o)

alis - I wish!

tf - Computers shaped like quills, perhaps? Perhaps not.

spiralskies - Yes, I get messy enough with a biro!

casdok - Thank you and thank you! Another year wiser, apparently :)

helenhm - I know, it's a different world! Though I have been known to read a magazine while scoffing toast (not quite the same!)

maddie - Thank you very much! Don't like getting older though...

moondreamer - My first yellow was supposed to be "Golden Sands" but was more "Fried Egg Yolk" -not a good colour for a bedroom I think you'll agree!!

womag - Oh I wish (knowing what I know now, obviously!)

poetess - I really don't like seagulls - I've been, ahem, pooped on before, shall we say :(

Mike - Maybe actually HAVING a quill would be enough to inspire me??
Love the Gordon Bennett story - dread to think what else he if urinating in the fire wasn't enough!!

lane - I'm nowhere near 27, how dare you???
I LOVE the thought of teeny-tiny notebooks filled with notes - makes my heart pound. Think there might be something wrong with me.

debs - Thankyou!
I know I'd be lost without modern technology. I'd still scribble away, but I don't think any of it would see the light of day :)

l-plate - Good old cream eh? I must admit, most of our walls are stuck in a Magnolia time-warp...but it's SO forgiving!

Annieye said...

Happy birthday for the other day. I'm chasing my tail somewhat at the moment and trying to catch up.

Well, I suppose Dickens had writer's cramp to deal with while nowadays we have RSI!

aliqot said...

Happy Birthday for when it was.

As for Dickens - don't forget he had a wife to do the behind-the-scenes support. Well, that was one of my excuses for years. The sheer persistence needed must have eliminated some of the competition, too.

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