Columns and pages – a different look and feel
For National Short Story Day, Chuffed Buff Books put a series of short story extracts on their website. They are from their recent anthology, You, Me & a Bit of We, and included an extract from my story, Last Funeral but Two.
Natch I went to the site to read the extracts. When reading mine, for a moment I thought they’d changed it. Then I realised that this feeling came from seeing it in a wide column instead of a whole page.
I’m used to seeing my work in pages on screen and on paper, but I’ve never seen it in column form and I was surprised at what a difference that made. The whole feel of the story changed for me – it felt more abrupt and ‘temporary’ and the short lines meant I read it faster but more superficially than usual.
What sort of difference would it make to have it appear as an illustrated manuscript, on a tiny mobile screen, in multiple columns on a scroll one unwound while reading like the ancient Romans had? Is the kind of literature written partly a response to the kind of layout and materials available? I doubt if I’ll ever know, but it’s interesting to speculate that I could make an undying classic just by writing on papyrus.
Before computers the paper and I wrote with had to be special. The paper crisp no flaws at all. The pen if not a cross it had to be of similar quality and fine point. The temperament of us writers.
In the days when I wrote on paper regularly I too liked special paper and good pens. Now, however, when I do use paper it’s as often as not torn and old and I’m ‘using it up so as not to waste’. Perhaps my temperament has changed. Thank you for reminding me of my past ‘writer’s temperament’.