It’s pretty common to see me on a train or tram with some kind of paper and a pen in my hands. Often it’s a notebook and I’m writing. Sometimes it’s a print out and I’m making notes. Sometimes it’s someone else’s work and I’m editing a hard copy.
As you might expect, there have always been occasional comments and questions from fellow commuters. What’s really interesting though is that it has changed over the years.
When I first started writing on public transport people would sometimes ask me what I was writing, and often people would take a quick peek at it (I suspect my handwriting tended to prevent too much actual reading). Then there was a long stretch where no one paid any mind to me and my paper. Only school-kids seemed curious at all. In recent times, it’s swung a different way and I don’t have people ask me about it anymore, but people will read what I’m writing with determination!
My handwriting has gotten worse, so it still has the power to put people off after a while, but they give it a good go. With printouts or when I have my computer, people will freely read “over my shoulder” now.
I don’t really understand what’s changed. In the period where no one was interested, I think people were a little bit “pfft – paper is soooo last century!” as they played with their phones. Now, I wonder if the interest is that people’s creative endeavours are more part of the general pop-culture. Life nowadays is full of stories of people whose song / art /film etc has gotten them a big audience online.
Obviously, seeing actual paper is getting much rarer. I don’t often see fellow scribblers anymore and I almost never see artists doodling in visual diaries.
It’s a nice thought that I might be the weird old lady on the train who uses a pen!