My computer died last week — just two weeks before Christmas. So I had to buy a new one. It was my 6th Macintosh. I bought my first one in 1987. It had a 9-inch B&W screen and a 20 MB hard drive. This one has a 24-inch color screen (that also contains the computer), 4 GB of RAM, and a 320 GB hard drive. Because my old hard drive was failing, it took more than 10 hours to transfer my files and applications. But they all came across the big divide, and I didn’t lose a thing or have to resort to my back-up systems. I often joke that I exist to feed my car and computer, and aside from my rent and utilities they certainly represent my major expenses. I still miss living in Washington, DC where I used public transportation and didn’t even need a car.
So what does this have to do with writing? Well, I couldn’t write without a computer. For one thing I would lose my train-of-thought if I had to return to writing by long-hand, and I probably wouldn’t be able to read it anyway. I live in a digital world of everything — TV, phone, computer, iPhone, iPod, and voice recorder. They are more than tools of the trade; they are a way of living. I iChatted with a friend in Dallas yesterday, and I could see the ice storm outside his window while he told me about it. I get RSS feeds from newspapers and magazines across the country that keep me abreast of the news. I can watch the news on my iPod or on my DVR, that is if I can ever find the time to do it. Often I just have to delete the old episodes that I never will get around to watching. That’s not considering the stack of six books sitting on my cadenza waiting to be read. No, I haven’t taken the plunge to the Amazon Kindle, which is out-of-stock now anyway.
After I got the new computer, I revisited some of the writing blogs that I mentioned in my first blog. Maybe I’ve just become jaded, but they seemed old hat or designed for “wannabe” writers. Just look at all of the books, blogs, and ezines “teaching” people how to become writers. Some people make a career of writing about writing. For me, I think this blog may become a cure for insomnia. Everyone thinks that he or she ought to write something sometime because everyone has a “story” to tell. I’m still trying to wind my way through the maze of web sites that put articles out for bid¾ as though the editor was merely a purchasing agent for a bundle of words. “How much will you bid for 500 words? 1,000 words?” Does it matter whether or not they say or mean anything? What ever happened to style? Has that been relegated to the obscure literary magazines, or is it simply the realm of fiction? Just pick a topic or a category and let the “words” pour forth.
I used to consider myself a hack writer when I worked as a staff writer because I could write in a defined style within a specified word count on deadline, but I guess that was a skill and not a talent. Some folks look down on journalists and don’t consider them “real” writers. The turn-of-phrase or just the right “bon mot” with vivid (and lengthy) descriptions are the prescribed talents of a writer. You can learn a skill, but you can’t fake talent..
Until next tine……..