I pretty much live and work inside my computer.
It’s true. If someone could put a computer chip in my brain that would allow me to see the screen on my retinas, I’d be a happy man.
I was on a panel at the Santa Barbara Festival of Books recently, talking about process, and one of my co-panelists, Gayle Lynds, was shocked when I said I never print out my drafts.
When I write books, the first time I see a draft on paper is when the copy editor sends it to me. I never make corrections with a pen until I’m writing STET all over those copy-edited pages. The book is written on a computer, revised on a computer and the only thing my editor ever gets from me is an electronic copy.
Even those STETTED (is that a word?) pages get scanned and sent electronically. Saves me a trip to the post office, and a lot of money. The one time I DID send the paper version of my UK copy edits, the delivery charge was 70 bucks.
All that said, I DO prefer to read paper based books. No Kindles or Sony Readers for me, thank you. Well, sure, I wouldn’t mind having one. In fact, I’d love to have one. But as handy as they might be, I’ll always prefer paperbacks. Lose a paperback on a plane, and you’re only out seven bucks.
But the writing process, for me, is almost all electronic. In fact, if they could find a way to send me the copy edits electronically, I’d jump for joy. Because, let’s face it, the copy edit phase is the most joyless part of the authoring business.
I’ve been a gadget fiend for as long as I can remember. When I was a kid, I had more tape recorders than I knew what to do with. Eight track recorders, reel-to-reel, cassette recorders, multi-track recorders. I’ve always been something of an early adopter and tend to buy gadgets long before the prices come down.
Back in the early 1980’s, I bought a Yamaha hardware sequencer (and if you don’t know, it’s kind of like the modern equivalent of a player piano for musical composition) for three thousand dollars. That was a crap load of money back then. Hell, it still is. And six months later, Yamaha came out with a smaller, better version for three hundred bucks.
I bought it, too.
Don’t even get me started on mp3 players. I’ll just say that I was buying them before even Apple knew what they were. When the iPod exploded onto the scene, my reaction was, "What’s the big deal?" — because I’d been using something better for a couple of years. And iPods still blow.
For writers, the computer is the greatest invention ever. Years ago, I used to bang out screenplays on an IBM Selectric typewriter, for godsakes. I worked in the CBS script department typing scripts on mimeograph stencils and every time I made a mistake, I’d have to pull out the little bottle of blue fluid, smear some on the stencil, wait for it to dry, then type over it.
When we heard about these new word processor things, we begged the bosses to get us some for the office. "Not cost effective," we were told.
A couple years later, I began my love affair with the computer.
Now I’m working on my fourth or fifth laptop (I bought my first around 1995) and I’m able to take my office with me. I keep my lastest manuscript on a thumb drive that hangs at my neck, and carry it with me wherever I go. I have a portable video player that not only stores all of my manuscripts, but also plays mp3s, and holds about 30 full-length movies and tv shows that I’ve stored for easy viewing during long plane rides.
I bought a high-quality portable stereo recorder for traveling notes and interviewing writer friends. That’s the idea, anyway. Next conference I may well follow through on the threat.
And just this weekend, I was wandering around Target and wound up buying one of these:
I suppose I should point out that it’s the size of a hardback book, weighs about the same, and costs a mere $300. This, my friends (who says that?), is a writer’s dream. No more lugging around that heavy notebook computer. No, not me. Now I have what they call a netbook. And it’s a thing of beauty. Compact. Convenient. Cute. But best of all, functional.
Let’s face it. I can’t help myself. I’m hopelessly addicted to gadgets. Which is why my wife refers to me, affectionately of course, as The Gadget Man.
Now will somebody find me a gadget that can tell me the point of this friggin’ post?