Tuesday, August 19, 2014

I Have a Laptop but can't use my Lap!





It’s going to take some getting used to, writing on a laptop, that is. The machine isn’t a real laptop but rather the case of one, the screen of another and the enternals put together with having a cheap and reliable computer so I can write when I am not at home. It case you missed it I have the world worst handwriting and it has never gotten any better.  I looked at a few dozen laptops and noticed one thing they all have in common; inconsistent reviews. And to get what I wanted would have taken more money than I wanted to spend on what is basically a writing tablet with a keyboard.

I’ve been writing lately while drinking coffee in a place that sells coffee, not to give a chain store a free plug. I like the atmosphere of writing in that place. The smell of coffee is incredible and there are always people who look interesting walking in. Women with tattoos go there and I always wonder what the ink means to those wearing it. You might look at the leg of a woman and that leg be covered entirely with tattoos and you might think, “It’s just a bunch of stuff that doesn’t mean anything” but what if each and every image is intensely personal? It’s not only beauty and art melded onto one of nature’s greatest wonders, the female human body, but those images might tell a story only she can translate for you. If you approach her in the right frame of mind she might tell you. But remember she might not like you asking. Showing doesn’t mean she’s obligated to tell.

I’ve had people stop and ask me what I was writing and it depends a lot on how they approached me and their body language. I have some Chow Dog in me because I just don’t like people getting all up and close to me without me knowing ahead of time, a couple of days’ notice is fine, and talking to me. Don’t assume I’m going to read to you or a tattooed woman is going to show you her life’s story. She doesn’t have to wear a burka to get some personal space and I don’t have to share my writing with you simply because I’m in public.

There have been times I’ve played Sudoku on my phone and really wished I had a laptop so I could write. Maybe it would only be enough to get a few hundred words down but that would be writing I could build on later or maybe it was a moment that felt different. It doesn’t really matter, you know. This is a device that will facilitate writing and therefore it is good. The downside to having a new machine is now I am going to have to retrain spell check out of its third grade vocabulary.

Honestly, if you can write a couple of paragraphs and suddenly realize you’re using words that Microsoft Word hasn’t seen fit to include into its lexicon this bodes ill for writing a novel with the same software, I evince. Back when I was working with Word Perfect the program would let you see the words you had added. I’m still trying to figure out how to do that with Word.

Generally speaking, I think the art of using new words in conversation is pretty much dead. Using words I commonly use when I write is pretty much out of the question when I’m engaged in public conversation. I can tell you that hyperbole is my forte but telling that to someone who hasn’t picked up a book since Cindy Crawford posed nude is going to be futile. Worse still, my penchant for using metaphors and similes go over very well in writing but some of them go over like a helium filled brick when they’re tossed into a conversation. If the people who put writing software together were really aiming at writers they would include the etymology of a word whenever offering a suggestion as a replacement. They offered entomology for my poor spelling of etymology and that bugs me too.
Back when I first settled down in front of a keyboard I never dreamed of a day like this. The process of writing is now incredible easy and editing is not nearly the task it once was. Writing is still hard as hell but just knowing that fifteen acres of rain forest won’t be sacrifice for a failed chapter one, part fifty-seven, is a benison. In this medium printing isn’t require all the time and sometimes it’s just plain superfluous. The craft of writing, nearly as much as photography, has benefited greatly from the digital age. Maybe even more so.

There was a time a person had to be good, really good, and have a decent camera to produce good photos. No anyone who knows anything about photoshop can turn an average photo into a shot of a  Sasquatch presiding over the funeral of Elvis with Miley Cyrus swinging on a hammer in the background while displaying her new ten commandments tattoo( five on each  inner thigh, regrettably) . But a writer still has to write. There isn’t a program that can replace the mind with text. Even cut and paste has some limitations as it’s impossible to plagiarize without getting caught if your professor has the right software.

I am uncertain where having a laptop will lead me. I like the idea of being able to write on the sofa, the bed, in the truck, on the deck in nice weather, and maybe even the woods. That’s going to be different. I think I’ll get a beanbag chair and write in the woods when the weather cools off. The dogs should like this new environmental change. I think I will too. You readers out there will have to let me  know if you think I’m writing any better or worse or if you think it’s all about the same, anyway.

Take Care,
Mike











12 comments:

  1. "They offered entomology for my poor spelling of etymology and that bugs me too." Hahahaha!
    Your writing will never be worse, and you know that, but it's easier to proofread when transposing from handwritten to typed. But writing using a laptop is immensely easier than trying to write on an iPad. It has taken me fifteen minutes to just write this comment.

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    1. I can adjust to anything that helps me write, Tex. It's just going to take a while, I think.

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  2. Good essay but the title is misleading!
    I though we were going to be reading more er... colorful ruminations on your poor mangled parts. ;-)

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    1. Sorry, maybe next time. But things are healing well.

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    2. Okay, I'll say it.

      Please, Mike, no photos... Dear God, No Photos!

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    3. Oh there is no way in hell I'd post photo of my body, whole and hale, much less the way it looks now. I would be banned from the Internets.

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  3. Writing in the coffee shop is dangerously close to hipsterism.
    Portability could be a great help to record thoughts that would evaporate before you got home, as would a 007 voice recorder. But it’s hard to organize and develop ideas without seeing them
    I’d have to somehow record my inspiration as I find it, because I can’t even remember why I walked into a room, half the time?

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    1. I was writing in coffee shops before coffee was cool, Bruce.

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  4. I have a laptop, but rarely use it. And I can't write in a cafe, reminds me of working in a loud, noisy newsroom (which I spent far too much time doing). On the other hand, I can't write in total silence; I keep the radio on, turned low. At least the dogs leave me alone when I'm at my desk, but if I tried to write on the laptop, I fear I'd be fighting them for space! I think you'll enjoy it for a change, and it is good for capturing a mood before it evaporates. --Cara

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    1. It's odd, Cara, how some find their Muse in a place others would not. I can pretty much write anywhere as long as I feel safe there.

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  5. I have a couple of laptops that I use to blog, but only when I have to. My desktop with dual 23 inch monitors has spoiled me greatly as have my high end keyboard and mouse. I know many people that prefer using the laptop but not me.

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    1. I am jealous, Jon, but you're running a business and I'm a starving artist. Well, I'm a hungry writer. How's that? ;-)

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