Archive

Posts Tagged ‘pencil’

That Does Not Compute!

August 19th, 2011 No comments

One of the perils of being a writer in the digital age is the prevalence of high-tech gadgets and newfangled gizmos we depend on to get our messages across that are far more complicated than either of those old standbys the pencil or (if you remember back far enough) the typewriter. Sure, some writers still trust in the ‘old ways,’ but most writers these days have surrendered to the digital revolution. As such, we have grown increasingly dependent on these electronic tools. When they work well, they make our lives easier. When they stop working – well, that’s a horse of a different color, to use an anachronistic metaphor.

Presently I find myself bedeviled by computer problems: my stalwart laptop is little more than a shelf for papers and assorted bits of detritus on my desk, since it chose to stop working after a recent software update. And my old workhorse PC is fighting for life after a botched hardware upgrade; using intuition, accumulated past fix-it knowledge and a lot of wishful thinking, I have managed to resurrect the PC with an archaic version of its operating system. That’s the bad news. The good news? I can still write and post, which is something I rely on to maintain my sanity. And that ain’t nothin’, as the expression goes…

But even without digital devices, one can – and should (if you consider yourself a writer, that is) write. It’s been said that artists are compelled to create, and that is especially true of writers. Without a medium and a message, a writer is just another featherless biped (with apologies to writers who have either feathers or a different number of legs). Having a story to tell, even if it is just about your battles with bits and bytes, is life’s blood to creative writers. So a computer malfunction shouldn’t stop you: after all, who tops the food chain when it comes to electrical productivity devices? YOU. Your brain, the most complicated and powerful processor there is, runs on electrical impulses. And, if you play your cards right and behave, it should never present you with ‘the blue screen of death.’ Let’s hope not, anyway!

So is there a moral to this story? Of course. There’s always a moral – or a point. And here, it’s this: you can write anywhere, on anything. The concept for the hit ’80s TV show “Miami Vice” was was two words scrawled on a cocktail napkin: “MTV Cops.” And it made NBC and Michael Mann millions. But I’m not suggesting using serviettes as your writer’s medium of choice. A pad of paper or a notebook along with a pen or pencil will do just fine. Quill pen and parchment? Sure. Even crayons and wrapping paper, if that’s your thing. In short, it doesn’t matter what you write on. It simply matters that you write.

Therefore, to quote F. Scott Fitzgerald from his masterpiece “The Great Gatsby,” “So we beat on, boats against the current, borne ceaselessly into the past.” At least that’s what it feels like writing on a computer that has seen better days, using an outdated operating system and browser. But it gets the job done, and that’s good enough for me. Because the secret isn’t writing efficiently – it’s writing well. And using old equipment to accomplish that? Well, it doesn’t diminish the pleasure I get from creating. Stated another way, I’ll allude to Hugh Hudson’s Oscar-winning 1981 film “Chariots of Fire,” which garnered 4 Academy Awards out of 7 nominations (including a win for Colin Welland’s original screenplay). In the film, which outlines the competition at the 1924 Olympics between runners Eric Liddell and Harold Abrahams, Liddell, son of missionaries and a devout Christian, explains that when he runs, he “feels God’s pleasure.” I can relate, because when I write, I feel the unmitigated joy at the opportunity to express myself. I own a couple of computers because I just do. But I write because I feel I must.

 

Stop Interrupting Me!

August 27th, 2010 No comments

Everyone has to deal with life’s interruptions. John Lennon’s famous quote “Life’s what happens while you’re making other plans” is true – life has a way of intruding upon (or even halting) your routine. If you’re a writer, this can be hazardous, especially if you are writing on deadline. As I’ve written here before, a body of work is important, since it develops writing ‘muscles,’ those skills that only develop with practice over time.

Fortunately for me, For Bards Blog doesn’t have a deadline, but being away from it for a couple weeks (as was just the case) does make it a little more difficult to jump back in… Consider it a perfect example of those writing ‘muscles’ getting flabby after just a couple of weeks off (although there is something to be said for recharging one’s batteries). Most writers can regain momentum on their work quickly, but occasionally something crops up that takes them away from their work for longer than they would like; that’s exactly when it’s important to resume writing, even if it is simply scribbling in a notebook when a moment presents itself or waking an hour earlier to get your thoughts down on paper (or on your hard drive).

I recently received a new prescription, and was reading the information sheet that came with the medicine. One line jumped out at me: “If you miss a dose, DO NOT STOP taking this medication; resume your normal dose until directed otherwise…” If writing came with a precautionary information sheet, it would say something similar: ‘If you are interrupted in your writing, DO NOT STOP creating; resume your normal writing routine as quickly as possible.’ Quitting a prescribed medication could be hazardous to your health; stopping writing will undoubtedly affect your productivity, if not your temperament. It’s been said that writers are compelled to write, and that’s certainly the case with good ones.

So, if you haven’t written in a while and feel that ‘forgotten’ project breathing down your neck, relax, take a deep breath and pick up a pencil – or open your laptop – and write. If you feel better, congratulations! It’s a validation of your ‘writer status.’ And if you don’t feel better? Write about that! (After all, you’re a writer, aren’t you?)