Despite the rise of computers, I still can’t edit anything on a computer screen. Yes, I can catch most typos and even rewrite paragraphs, but rewriting anything more substantial requires that I have a paper copy in front of me. This copy can be marked, just as all my teachers did to my essays, though few made a hobby of tearing them apart until I arrived at college.
There’s something concrete about marking up a piece of writing on paper. The piece is in front of you, and you’re able to hold the physical piece, giving proof that in fact it does exist. You can hug it, write on it, fold it, and (horrors) burn it. You can stab a hole through the middle of it and leave it to the elements. Suddenly the writing feels so much more real, the connection so much more alive, all because the writing is so much less protected by the paper. Perhaps this is why ritual burnings are so talked about.
It’s different with a computer, though. Reaching inside a computer and tampering with a piece of writing is more difficult. Instead, you modify the work with a keyboard, which is hooked up to a computer. If you haven’t already tried it, destroying a computer is hard. Yes, you can put a computer out of commission by dropping it a few too many times, but properly destroying a hard drive to the point where no one can recover data is difficult. You are less connected to your writing with a computer.
I crave that connection.