Sunday, 7 February 2010

Tell me how you write - Part 3 - Diane Becker

Here's the third in the 'Tell me how you write' series of guest blogs. Over to the rebellious (she doesn't write on the lines) and enviable (she has a cat) artist and writer Diane Becker.

I remember being told off at school for writing between the lines. I was probably about five or six, and it wasn’t that I couldn’t do it, there was something about writing on-the-line that constrained me - still does - which is why I use unlined notebooks. I used to write in artist sketchbooks, but for the past couple of years I’ve used Moleskines. Give me one of these and the right sort of pen and I’m happy.

The right sort of pen is much more humble. I’ve only used four different makes of pen over the last twenty or so years. I started with those yellow-orange barrel fine BIC biros, graduated to the transparent ones - as long as it had black ink - and now love the Uniball Eye waterproof/fade-proof gel pens and Berol Handwriting pens (the red ones, for school, ironically) which allow my thoughts to glide across the page.

I like to have everything within arms reach when I’m writing. This is usually at the kitchen table, and at the expense of space for the two of us to eat. I have a stack of IKEA drawers beside me, my printer - covered with a towel to keep the coal dust from the stove out of it - and on top of this there’s usually a cat. This all sounds a little writerly, but this is how it is. I spend much of each day - probably too much if I’m being honest - sat at my laptop, doing some sort of writing, research or reading. I use the laptop for most things I do - it’s a MacBook - and I love it for lots of reasons, but mostly because the keyboard is bliss to use and it’s processor makes almost no noise at all. I can touch type as fast as I think and although I print out drafts, I do most of my revising and editing on the screen. My laptop is a microcosm of my world, which some might think sad - but really it’s my lifeline to what’s going on out there.

I derive a real physical and aesthetic pleasure from writing by hand, but save my notebooks for bedtime - for writing down ideas, snippets of dialogue, journal stuff and observations - and always take one with me when I venture out. I’d feel naked without one.

DIANE BECKER is a writer and artist/designer, based in the NW. She is deputy editor of The Short Review, has short stories and poetry in several lit mags including The Pygmy Giant and micro-fiction anthology, 6S Vol2 and a flash piece up now at Metazen. She blogs here.


Nik Perring said...

Cool interview. And it makes me happy to see that someone else is in the UNlined camp. Good stuff, you two!


Brian Keaney said...

Writing by hand! I don't even write a shopping list by hand. The computer is the writer's friend. Try it.

Rachel Fenton said...

I wish I had shares in the company that makes moleskins!

Really enjoyed this - thanks both of you!

DotSeven said...

Thanks Nik - I didn't realise you were an *unlined* writer too :

Brian - Yes, I love my laptop - but something about they physical act of putting pen to paper that I can't resist!

Rachel - thanks - it's hard to beat a moleskine - again, must be the physical/aesthetic thing!

Finally - huge thanks to Teresa for giving me this opportunity x

Teresa Stenson said...

You're very welcome, Diane.

It's really interesting now that we have 3 of these responses up, to see there are similarities and patterns in the (often passionate) feelings we have about notebooks and 'instruments'.

Interestingly, when I read through Alex Thornber's response (will be posted on 22nd February) certain things leapt out because a few of his habits are out of sync with some of the writers we've had so far.

I have 4 more writers booked in for guest slots but I'd love some more - if you're interested in telling us how you write, please email me at