Is the pen becoming obsolete?

Pen

I sit here typing on my computer wondering when the pen will become obsolete. Is the pen being phased out like the typewriter? Or a watch? With computers, smart phones, ipads, and Kindles, do you ever need a pen any more? What about paper? At least with paper you can type something on the computer and then print it. We send letters via e-mail and sign contracts electronically, so why would we still need to use a pen?

Dare I admit that I actually enjoy writing with a pen? Even worse, I like writing cursive with a pen. My boyfriend still has no idea how to read my cursive so all my journal entries are safe from him. He always thinks I am writing about him (as if I had the time). I would have the time, but I don’t have a watch. I love to write cursive in my college-ruled notebook with no computer or phone in sight. Is it possible that I am single-handedly keeping all the pen and paper companies in business? For some reason the physical experience of handwriting is different from typing on a computer. I know words still end up on the page, but there is a difference in how the brain works in each process and how the words come out. When I am typing I can write 90 words a minute. When I handwrite the words glide onto the paper much slower. Writing slow is not a bad thing when you want to think.

Maybe instead of wondering about pens going obsolete, I need to look in the mirror. Am I next? I may be going obsolete because I still cook in an oven (not a microwave) and I prefer french pressed or Turkish coffee instead of coffee from one of those fancy coffee machines. I am talking about those machines that can make coffee, fold my laundry and wash my car. I am not sure they do windows though. At least I am still good for something.

Another reason I became concerned with my obsolescence is that I recently discovered that my ability to concentrate on one task for long periods of time is disappearing. Hold on. I need to go put the laundry in the dryer. Sorry, back now. What was I saying? Oh, yes, I was talking about concentration. Sorry again, just one moment. I need to heat water for coffee now. Yes, back again. Where was I? Concentration is the problem. Actually the problem isn’t me. It is society’s inability to focus that is becoming the problem. Is a society with people who don’t have the ability to concentrate on tasks for long periods of time a good thing? Who will do research or design the next i-device? Who will be the heart surgeon? Can you tell I am worried about society going in a direction that is not necessarily good? I feel like life is moving too fast and there isn’t time to relax. No time to concentrate or focus. One might call it information overload. We get on-line and find ourselves bouncing around from e-mails to Facebook to an article about killer bees. How can we do this with such ease? Or do we? Is this hurting us in ways we don’t realize? Are we becoming dependent on information being thrown at us instead of sitting down and creating something or just plain thinking?

As I type this blog on my MacBook Air I wonder if I should grab the pen and paper sitting on the table next to me? Can I be more creative through the process of writing with a pen instead of using technology?  For now, the pen and paper industry is still safe because I love to sit outside or in a coffee shop and write with my Papermate Profile Elite pen on college ruled notebook paper. Maybe the ability to write cursive with a pen on my computer is just around the corner with one of these note taking applications. I can only hope that even if the pen goes obsolete, that thinking won’t.

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Saturday, Oh Saturday

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A hike in morning to clear the mind
Space inside my brain I find

Nature draws away my stress
Feelings of relaxation are the best

Soon it is a quiet afternoon
A time to rest and whistle a tune

I write down thoughts as they come
Word after word, there’s more than┬ásome

I seek a book I can read out loud
No one can hear my voice, a sound

And so I close my eyes for a nap
Then my book, it falls in my lap

Another great Saturday, its’ a winner
Before I know it, it’s time for dinner

Communication Overload? or Misfire?

We have so many forms of communication at our fingertips, yet we still struggle to communicate our messages. With Instant Messenger, e-mail, text and phone, are there too many ways to communicate? Which method do you use, and when? Because we have so many methods for communication, are expectations for understanding and response too high?

IM at work can be your best friend or your worst enemy. When you need a quick piece of information, you just look for the little green dot next to the name of the person you are looking for, and voila – you can see if the person you need to contact is accessible or not. Maybe. Is the dot always accurate? Why is it green but the person isn’t responding to my question? Am I not on their priority list? Where are they? Why aren’t they answering me? So maybe e-mail is a better choice because you just assume it will take a while for them to get back to you, instead of an instant response. Remember when getting a response via e-mail was considered quick compared to a fax or letter? Does anyone even use a letter any more?

Then there is communication in the world of dating. “I texted him 2 hours ago and haven’t heard back,” a friend declares. Worse yet is the IM. You send your “hi” into the ether and then wonder why they didn’t respond. Is the green dot innacurate? Maybe they are out with another man? or woman? Do they have another lover? The mind could make you crazy with this scenario. The question is, why don’t we just pick up the phone and call? It clarifies a lot of communication issues. Why? There is something about the tone of a voice – the inflection. It gives you more of the message than just the words. Amazing that the ear really is detecting so much more than consonants and vowels – it conveys a feeling. A colleague told me a long time ago to smile when I am talking on the phone because the person on the other end of call could hear my smile. What? Hear a smile? Strange yet true.

Time for me to smile and call, text or e-mail someone. Since I have the ability to communicate I feel like I should. Sometimes silence is acceptable too. Imagine being alone with your thoughts for five minutes, or call to tell someone about it.

A novel in a month? Is this a joke?

Several months ago I signed up for the unbelievable task of writing a whole fiction novel in one month a.k.a. NANOWRIMO. The fiction novel must be 50,000 words to qualify as a winner. (No, I did not add extra zeros there!) This particular novel-writing event is about quantity and not necessarily quality. No one reads the actual words, you just need to churn it out. I like this idea of focussing on creativity and not on structure, sentences, grammar, or spelling. How often in our lives can we focus for just one month on accomplishing a life-long dream? Maybe for me it is a life-long dream but for someone else it would be a nightmare.

I volunteered for staring at a blank page every single day of November with the objective of creating new and unique characters and then actually making them do something exciting, memorable, or at least interesting enough for others to read. I am not fooling myself on this challenge, because I know it will be a lot of hard work, but at the same time I am embracing it. The same way a marathoner embraces running. For me, I am running a race – a 30 day, 50k word race instead of a 26.2 mile foot race.

Some people might think I have signed up for a challenge of misery. Then again, I think people who sign up to run a marathon are the ones asking for misery. I am a runner – I know of what I speak. I ran a 1/2 marathon of which I was glad for the accomplishment, but I think I hit my limit on distance. I guess for writing, I am wondering what my ‘distance’ is. Can I go the distance and meet the deadline?

I ask anyone who is a novice writer, a wannabe writer, or a published writer to participate in this global event with me. Think about what you can accomplish:
1) Get carpal tunnel syndrome in just one month
2) Write a novel before Christmas and still have time for Christmas shopping
3) Save me from suffering this self-inflicted misery alone
4) Cross the finish line with a novel in hand
5) Share celebratory champagne, root beer, or cranberry juice with me on midnight on November 30th

Are you going to join in or just stand on the side-lines to cheer me on?