Writing a haiku? Fine, it might work. But a novel?
So it’s the middle of November and many of you are no doubt participating in Nanowrimo.
I am not.
I should be writing. I should be wrapping up the short story that is almost, unbelievably close to done.
I should be wrapping up the third Marlowe and the Spacewoman novel, the first draft of which is two thirds done.
But I’m not.
Instead, I got lost down the rabbit hole of process.
Not the thought process of writing, but the mechanical process of writing.
As is clear by the sizeable passage of time since I’ve generated any prose, I am prone to distractions. So as I sat down for one writing session, I thought, “Hey, I should Bing* search ‘distraction free writing’ to see what options I have.”
Because obviously I should spend the precious free moments I have for writing doing anything but writing.
Why distraction-free writing? Because
I wanted yet another excuse for why I don’t write I wanted something that would force me to write without opening another tab in my browser to look up something inconsequential to getting the story done, such as which font I need to download in order to properly spell “procrastinate” in some weird language like Old or Middle Latin.
(Those are totally languages, so don’t leave any angry comments below!)
And boy, did that search give me some cool results.
First I encountered a lot of apps / programs that, really, are just bare-bones text editors. But not only could I just use Notepad instead for that, but my laptop is 10+ years old and takes forever to boot. So long that I switched from Winblows to Linux, which also, it turns out, takes forever to boot.
Just slightly less forever than Winblows 7 with 10+ years of programs installed on it.
So I realized that apps were out. No, I needed a distraction-free hardware solution that didn’t take until the next ice age to boot.
The Alphasmart gets lots of play during Nanowrimo, but it has a teeny tiny LCD display that is just too small for me.
Enter the Freewrite, which claims you will double your hourly word count.
And exit the Freewrite, when I see that it costs $549, only does one thing (allowing you to type documents), and has no arrow keys because going back to edit is for losers.
But wait, in a shocking surprise substitution, enter the Freewrite Traveler, which also claims you will double your hourly word count.
And exit the Freewrite Traveler, when I see it costs $369 (on sale, normally $599!), has all the same issues as the Freewrite, and, oh yeah, isn’t out yet.
I was starting to lose faith and therefore was forced to redouble my searching efforts.
Which is how I stumbled across the Pomera DM30, a compact, instant-on device with a folding keyboard and E-Ink display.
That can be had now for (as low as) $208, uses a Japanese keyboard layout, has be be imported from Japan, and is also distraction-free since it can’t do anything else.
Well, that’s not entirely true. I sometimes am forced to use a Japanese layout keyboard at the day job, and let me tell you, nothing is more distracting than trying to hit the space bar or figure out where the friggin’ ‘:’ and ‘;’ keys actually are, inaccurate labeling on the keys notwithstanding.
WTF, Japan? WTF?
But these devices (the Freewriti, as the plural for Freewrite is written in Old Latin, and the Pomera) were instant on, and that really appealed to me. There was no way I’d pay $250+ for (yet another) computer/word processor, so I was reluctantly leaning towards the Pomera, even though I knew the keyboard would drive me crazy and the $208 price still felt a bit steep.
That’s when I discovered HPCs.
HPCs are, for those of you who are young or who are old but not nerds, Handheld PCs. Small computers either running proprietary OSes (such as the Psion 7 running Symbian) or Windows CE.Some are tiny and literally fit in the palm of your hand (such as the HP 100LX which runs DOS), and others are slightly larger with nearly full-size keyboards (such as the NEC MobilePro 900C or Psion Netbook Pro).
They also haven’t been made in at least 15 years.
But I found a new old stock (so still in the box, woo-hoo!) Psion Netbook Pro on eBay for ~$130 and, after weeks of searching and researching and viewing YouTube videos of it (and the Pomera and the FreeWriters and the HP 100 and 200 LXes and the older Psion 7 that goes for $450+ on eBay), I ordered it.
It came with Windows CE (duh), Wordpad and a bunch of outdated Microsoft Office viewers.
And nothing else.
Which I found a little…lacking.
So I spent another week or so doing more research, discovered someone selling a CD with a bunch of licensed programs for Win CE, including a more full-featured word processor than Wordpad that could save documents as Microsoft .doc files.
So for another $48 (including shipping), I ordered that.
And waited 18 days for it to show up. The first 13 of which were spent in the originating post office. For some reason.
Some incredibly frustrating, but unknown to me reason.
Side note: the USPS package tracking sucks. That is the scientific term to describe it – I’m too polite to use the informal term that immediately comes to mind.
Now did I use my shiny new (old stock) distraction-free writing computer during all this?
Hell, no! It only has Wordpad! Yeech! I’m no masochist!
(Well, OK, maybe I am, but not when it comes to my writing.)
So if you’re thinking about dipping your toes into the whole distraction-free writing world, I have one word of advice for you:
* I didn’t use Bing. No one does. I used a different, functional search engine. That doesn’t spy on me.
Spread the word! Can't stop the signal!
Your Significant Other Will Dump You If You Order The Veal And These Other Items
If you don’t remember the origin of this series (or, more likely, you’ve just stumbled upon this posting in your quest for pictures of naive boy scouts and have no idea what I’m on about), you can catch up here with Part I, here with Part II, here with Part III, here with Part IV, and here with Part V. Just don’t expect reading those entries to help any of this make sense and you’ll be fine. The rules are simple: using the writing prompt book Write the Story, include the ten provided words (underlined in this text) in a story using the given title. Failure to do so results in finding yourself on stage, in front of an audience of your parents and peers, wearing nothing but a speedo and a cape that inexplicably has the word “PHOTOGRAPHER” emblazoned across it.
A Lunch Date Gone Wrong
Is it hot in here, or is it just me? Things were going so well, the relationship seemed back on track. And then…the carnival came back to town.
She started showing up late for dates, or putting them off. Without explanation.
I admit it. I got jealous. I began to assume the worst: she was going to leave me for that cult. When we started dating again, I made a promise to myself. OK, two promises:
I would get all the facts instead of jumping to conclusions.
I would never again roller skate nude under the full moon.
Without using mosquito repellent. You can only draw blood from scratching bug bites too hard so many times before you swear that oath.
So here we are, our brunch date now a lunch date due to her inexplicable tardiness, having a ‘discussion’ over a mango salad about her career, her needs, her hopes and desires. And how they don’t include assuming the traditional housewife role, or monogamy, or, worst of all, punctuality.
My sweet tea couldn’t taste more bitter. I struggle to hold back, to refrain from pitting my rapid-fire questions against her inconsistent logic. She was never late before the carnival returned. She never came over to my place smelling like pipe tobacco and my ex-wife’s favorite perfume before the carnival came to town. We never talked about marriage in the days preceding the cultists’ return.
So why now?
But her apparent calm and detachment only served to fuel my fears that she had tired of me and was returning to her old ways. Leaving me alone, divorced with no path back to my ex, doomed to online dating and online / offline rejection.
So of course I exploded, all of my fears and insecurities a festering eruption that poisoned the conversation, the meal, the entire ambiance of the restaurant. And as she stormed off, her sweet tea just as bitter now as mine but dripping from my face and hair, I had to wonder if this had been her intention all along.
Spread the word! Can't stop the signal!
Posted by ianmdudley on 20 November 2018 in Angst, Life, Writing, writing prompts
Tags: Am I mistaken or are the tags longer than the actual post this time around? If only I could say that was a first..., assume, balancing your life and your better half's career, career, carnival, cult, duogamy - sounds like it involves dogs so no thank you, eruption, fire, full moon, getting dumped, getting dumped over (an expensive) dinner is another recurring theme in my (past I hope!) life, housewife, I have never been late to a date where I was dumped. I suppose that's worth something. Right?, I lost so many girlfriends to cults that I am forced to wonder if possibly it wasn't the cults but something to do with me., I've been dumped over more salads than I care to (or can) remember. It's why I'm so averse to vinaigrette salad dressings., Is your girlfriend planning to kill you? Probably. You jerk., Is your significant other late because they've been kidnapped/in a car accident/due to a shopping mishap or because they're plotting to kill you? Hope for the best but plan for the worst..., losing your appetite due to being dumped while eating, monogamy, nurse, People never seem to fall into a cult of science...anymore., pipe smoke and your ex-wife's perfume - a devastating combination, promise, public breakup, public humiliation, public shame, punctuality is a virtue of the single it turns out, Riding the Deet train to Bugsville, Roller blading in the nude is an entirely different story. You can roller blade fast enough that the mosquitoes can't keep up., roller skate, salad, sweet, sweet tea as a repellent of bugs (and exes), The carnival coming back to town preceded an uncomfortably large number of the bad events in my life., Those of you who come here because of the childhood Boy Scout picture seriously need to seek therapy and / or stop using the internet., To be completely honest this title hit too close to home as I've never had a lunch date NOT go wrong, trigonogamy - only sleeping with people who fully understand trigonometry?, Turns out there IS a character limit to these tags. Rats., When my writing prompt posts get a hit I fear people found it by accident and stop reading a sentence in. If you read all of it please comment so I know it was just interesting enough to finish., writing prompts