Creative Control

Miscellaneous Mental Musings of an Emerging Artist

Font of youth.

As I sit here in front of the magical media screen most puny earthlings refer to as a laptop, making what I hope is the final revision on In The Eye of Ivan, I find myself reflecting on font. Why? Do not ask such questions. I am sure it has nothing to do with the ingestion of four McDonald’s cheeseburgers this evening, a meal that defied all reason and sense but dammit, it was their once-a-year Tax Day Deal, where cheeseburgers are a mere 49 cents each.

Four McDonald’s cheeseburgers, I am certain, is a mind-altering dosage of processed junk, and as such, as I said, I find myself wistfully reminiscing on font.

I remember the characters on the glowing green screens of the elementary school Apple IIe’s, back in a time when no graphics engine could master a rounded edge, and the letters were comprised of strategic squares and angled lines. The cursor a blinking box, the printouts cold and inelegant. The number of terrible short stories and fake news articles and double-spaced essays that had no distinct paragraphs; hammered out in forty minutes or less.

PalatinoNova

I remember that my first love, in the word processing world post-Word, was Palatino. There was something that felt warm and inviting, something consummately cool about the lean and stylization of its italic form. It looked like what I hoped my voice sounded like. I wrote every short story in high school under the Palatino typeface; from meandering crime thrillers to a deeply personal work of romantic grief that was meant for one woman who broke my heart in two. Palatino was a squire of sorts, a companion.

The computers in my college dorm’s computer lab did not equip Palatino. For a number of months, I found myself unable to write anything beyond what was required of me for classes. Despite the steering of my professors towards Times New Roman, I found myself slightly rebellious. I chose Garamond. This was my font of choice for two years; something which felt in its own way slightly more casual and loose than the stuffiness of Times New Roman. It had a name, like Palatino, that sounded like the last name of a dime-novel swashbuckler.

I switched to Times New Roman during my senior year, when it finally occurred to me that TNR 12-pt was slightly larger than Garamond 12-pt, and that every little bit helped when you were being asked to deliver a 20-page term paper analyzing One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. And nights like this, with Tom Waits warbling in my ears, I find myself feeling small guilt for giving up Garamond, the second wife, so cheaply for the utilitarian assimilation of Times New Roman.

Today I use Times New Roman for most of my work and wonder if I abandoned the romance of my youth by leaving such fonts behind. I have tried to write plays in Palatino and cannot bring myself to do it. I have lost the eyes that used to find the font the only worthy one in the toolbar.

My adventures now occur in individual writing projects; my poems are all done in different font and style formats, for example. A story I wrote to win the heart of my lovely girlfriend was done entirely in Tempus Sans ITC, specifically for the archaic look it gave to the piece.

I require an aptly-fonted title page for each new play I write. Disconnect is titled with Century GothicAfter the Rock Left uses Trebuchet MSDawn’s Lover uses Book Antiqua.

Oh. I hadn’t realized.

Ivan is titled with Palatino. 24-pt, Bold, Italic.

Despite all this, I find that every serious playwright and screenwriter is required to write in bloody Courier, which is the font that most approximates the classic typewriter. The Final Draft software, for example, imposes it upon the work. And I hate it. I find it stifling, I find it unsettling. And I think the font is ugly as hell.

I don’t want to write plays in Courier.

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This entry was posted on April 14, 2004 by in Language, Theatre, Writing.
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