A gift I gave myself*

“It’s very inconvenient being a sculptor. It’s like playing the double-bass; one’s so handicapped by one’s luggage.” –character
Marjorie Phelps, The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club, Dorothy Sayers

Today I will pen a little tribute to those things which changed my artist’s tools from double-bass to viola to piccolo.

“Pen” is completely the wrong word, however. I bet you guessed that. For writers, particularly writers with sublimely illegible handwriting and a tendency to cramping like myself, the introduction of computer-based word processing was the first major gift. It became our shift away from the double-bass of typewriters when those computers turned into true laptops.

But beyond celebrating that change, I would like to pinch the cute round cheeks of my piccolo of writing–my smartphone + Bluetooth keyboard setup.

Officially, my keyboard claims to hang out with tablets. But my geek-girl skillz quickly realized that Bluetooth is Bluetooth, and external keyboard is touch-typing on the go. In fact, that’s how I’m composing this even now: I pulled up WordPress’ little app, turned my keyboard on, and the three of us are off to the races!

There’re a few useful side effects from this setup, so that I almost prefer it to a Real Computer:

  1. This is the platform of no excuses. It takes 30 seconds to get going. Or two minutes if I walk across my house to pick up the keyboard. Contrast that with my firing up my full-featured computer workspace -!
  2. It’s too dang difficult to paste in cross-references. So I’m vastly less tempted to pop over to track down a third-party reference to That Thing I’m Quoting, or what have you. The librarian tendencies are strong in this one, Ben Kenobi. Tendencies which veer sharply into rabbit-trail-chasing-!
  3. I can operate anywhere on relatively little power. And in west Texas, where there’s no connectivity to speak of, it gives me all the joy of disconnected writing without the torture of later transcribing my glyphs. (I’m not exaggerating about my handwriting. I had a dear friend once send me a letter thanking me for my graciousness in sending a handwritten letter…then sternly demanding that I type every letter thereafter.)

I pioneered this phone+keyboard setup around the time I went to Alpine TX for a writer’s retreat/seminar. (I would gratefully link to the Writers’ Guild of Texas right now, but see Number 2.) I didn’t feel right in taking the family laptop away for eight days, but I knew I’d be generating lots of words.

Little did I know I was not only giving myself that week in Alpine, but also this wonderful other gift.  Everything that reduces the natural friction of a writer sitting down to write is a glorious blessing, a tremendous gift…
and a needed kick in the pants.
*I bet, with that title, you thought this would be about Mothers’ Day. Not this time!

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