Posted by: Lisa Hill | January 13, 2013

Sensational snippets: Questions of Travel (2012), by Michelle de Kretser

Questions of Travel
I am reading Questions of Travel, by Michelle de Kretser, and I came across a snippet which explains why I still keep a reading journal in longhand.

Laura, in the 1990s, is writing in the early days of word-processing on a laptop:

In London the night deepened, and Laura worked on her story for Meera Bryden.  She was still exhilarated by the effortlessness of writing on screen – skaters must know that swift sweep and glide.  But as her work took shape, her enthusiasm ebbed.  The traceless erasure of mistakes, first thoughts, alternatives masked the fallible labour that paper preserved. By the time she had finished writing, she no longer trusted her processed words.  Unblemished but unfresh, they put her in mind of supermarket apples. 

(Questions of Travel, by Michelle de Kretser, Allen and Unwin, 2012, p 145)

I do love the way WordPress automatically keeps all my revisions, if only MS Word did that!


Fishpond: Questions of Travel


  1. The word ‘processed’ says it all!


  2. Oh I completely agree with her! Although MS Word is useful because of speed and not wasting a lot of paper, I have a very fat reading journal where I write ideas, snippets, quotes and even entire chapters when I think of them. I still have to transfer everything into MS Word eventually of course as it is the official paper at the University, but I have to say that letters written mechanically look somewhat lifeless to me.


    • Hello Amicia, welcome to chatting about books at ANZ LitLovers:)
      I like the ‘feel’ of writing too. I’m not a neat writer – I learned copperplate at all the schools I went to as a child, but when I began teaching I ahd to learn to write in the horrible cursive we teach here and I regress when I write fast. But I’m very fussy about the pens I use, and I like good quality lined paper to write on so that the ink doesn’t bleed through to the other side.
      Real writing has personality, IMO.


  3. Oh yes. I have a Waterman fountain pen as well and in certain situations I pull it out, fill it up with medium-blue ink, find a fresh page in my old journal and write! But most of the time I take notes in archives in pencil, it is still more satisfactory than keying in. When I finished my thesis I swore I would never touch MS Word again, and I haven’t. I use Pages for drafts and final edits of articles, papers etc.


    • Waterman! Very nice:)
      I don’t think I could give up Word altogether, especially not for work stuff. I like using both.


  4. Last night we went to friends to see their new Yamaha Clavinova and although the sounds coming from it I found it inherently synthetic in the same way as “supermarket apples”. It just made me want to go back to a traditional piano.

    I would be unable to write in long-hand though as I seem to have lost the ability to write anything legible – even a shopping list can defeat me as I often can’t decipher the items when in the shop


  5. sorry – missed a couple of words after “coming from it”. Insert “were amazing”. What was that about word processors?


    • I am never going to like synthetic music. Never.


  6. Are you enjoying the book? My contact here at Allen & Unwin UK has been raving about it for months!!


    • It’s a long, slow read, Kim. I’m about 2/3 through now, and because there’s something to think about on nearly every page, I’m not reading it at night because otherwise I’d never get to sleep!


  7. […] Michelle de Kretser – Questions of Travel 
(A&U) See my review and a Sensational Snippet […]


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