WRITING: On Writing ToolsPosted: April 3, 2012
While I like pens and writing longhand in diaries, I never even considered writing fiction in longhand. The most important reason would be the editing problem: whereas writing in a diary is for private thoughts, writing fiction is writing that is intended to be shared. And any writing that is to be share will have to be edited thoroughly before it’s released on the unsuspecting audience.
I started writing on a typewriter, because computers were not in my budget. I started writing during long boring night shifts as a security officer, spending six to seven hours of my eight hour shift alone in a security cabin in the middle of an industrial area. I had an idea for a story and started writing, first in Dutch, later in English. The computer at work had a printer and I could draw up a page-long note, so I would print that out, erase it and write the next page. I’d keep the printout in a folder and re-write the last unfinished page and continue to write the rest of the story. After a while I got transferred to an office building, where I borrowed a typewriter that I placed behind the reception desk to write my novel.
After two years working security, I used my vacationing money to buy an Apple PowerBook 150, which I carried everywhere. From that moment on, I took myself seriously as a writer. As I couldn’t follow classes on writing crime fiction in Amsterdam, I bought self-help books for writers and became an autodidact. The PowerBook 150 traveled with me all over for more than ten years, when the screen was destroyed in a motorcycle accident. To replace the PowerBook 150 I bought a secondhand PowerBook 135c with a color screen, but it had erratic failures and I dumped it. By that time, most offices had computerized the security files, so I had a computer for registering keys and keycards, and filling out reports. And, since all of them featured Word, I carried my work with me on a USB stick. Until I retired from security work I used three USB sticks, a 64mb I replaced with an 8GB, and later with a 16GB version I still use as a back-up.
At home we used a PC and a HP Pavillion laptop that recently began to slow down radically and had several ‘blue screens of death’ that are the bane in a writer’s life.Since I had stopped working in security and now took care of the children, while I worked on my novels and started up a business in conflict resolution and physical self-defense, I wanted to replace the HP laptop.
At first I looked into MacBooks, but they were incredibly expensive, plus they could do a lot more than what I needed, i.e. access to the internet and a simple wordprocessing program. Someone pointed out that I could do all that on an iPad. I didn’t want to type on a screen though. But, this person pointed out to me, there are bluetooth keyboards compatible with iPads…
With the advent of the iPad3, the iPad2 was dumped on the market, so I got myself an iPad2 with an Adonit Writer keyboard/iPad case combo. Although the keyboard is quite a bit smaller than a regular keyboard, the portability is incredible – weighing next to nothing, the iPad/Adonit joins my Kindle in the laptop compartment of the backpack I take everywhere. With its battery-life of ten working hours, the iPad is much better at working wireless than most laptops. I installed Apple Pages for iPad and transferred all works in progress to the iCloud and I’m a happy person.
While until now I was pretty much restricted to editing my MSS on the Kindle, highlighting and notating the text without the ability to actually edit the text, now, with the iPad, I can create stories on my lap while I’m at the pool for my son’s swimming lessons. I’ve written two blog posts already, and a short story due out soon to create an audience for my novel.
Life is good.