Thursday, September 9, 2010

An Old Dog, A New Trick

I think about writing all the time: story arc, character development, a keen insight or a finely-tuned phrase—it’s all good. I even like thinking about grammar and punctuation.

And I belong to not just a real book club, where actual people meet in the same room to talk about the same book (this month: The House at Sugar Beach, by Helene Cooper—a fascinating memoir of growing up in Liberia), but also to a virtual book club, where me and my buddies, Mary and Kim (who are real people living in different cities) meet virtually (group emails) to discuss a juicy kidlit selection (most recently: Incarceron, by Catherine Fisher, a YA novel that is…wow really hard to describe in a single phrase, but if you want a meaty fantasy, it’s a good choice!)

But the one aspect of writing that I only think about when absolutely necessary is the physical act of writing and how to make it as unobtrusive as possible, so that the words I want to write appear on the page with the least hassle to me.

I have read other authors wax on about a perfect pen, the flowing ink, and the right-sized notebook.

Not me. I have terrible handwriting. My hand cramps when I try to write more than a phrase or two longhand, not because of any physical ailment but only because I write way more slowly than I think, and my brain is furious with itself that all those lobes, cortexes, and hemispheres can’t get their act together and work in concert a little bit better.

Since I began writing for real (as in, scheduling it into my day, every day) I’ve always composed on a computer. I’m also a creature of habit, a techno-phobe, and a charming person to be around when I have a computer problem (just ask my husband): I don’t get mad, I just start to cry with alarming ease.

But last week I bought my first laptop. And not just any laptop: my first Mac, after about 20 years on a PC.

With great trepidation, I slipped into the Apple store (where—at least in trendy Portland, OR—every smiling employee is 22 and covered in tattoos), my middle-aged self carefully avoiding the i-pad/i-pod pods to make a bee-line for the MacBooks.

Jeremy (smiling, shaved head, tattoos) took my order and Kyle (smiling, shaggy-haired, pierced lip) showed me how to use it.

And I am sort of starting to fall in love with it. Even though I haven’t figured out how to make the email work yet. Even though you can only delete from the right and not from the left.

I like how the cute little apple on the cover lights up when I walk into the room (ok, I have to turn on the computer, too.) I like how bouncy the icons are on my Dock—like they are jumping up, eager to get to work, excited to hear what I’ve got to say. The Mac just feels like more fun, somehow. And my middle-aged self likes how easy it is to make the font bigger, because Dude, these eyeballs have been places.

I will never get a tattoo and the only thing I will ever pierce is my earlobes. But this old dog is sort of excited about having a fun new computer.

And I bought a sassy computer case to prove it.


Unknown said...

Have fun, Barbara! I got my MacBook pro three years ago when I wanted to learn how to edit video. The best thing is that all those tatooed, pierced young things are available to teach you One to One so that you learn how to use it without hassle. It's worth the $100 per year to have that incredible tutorial service available to you.

Amber Keyser said...

I, too, love my new Mac, and I love the 20 somethings at the Apple Store in PDX. One-to-One is totally worth the $99. I learned that if you hold down "fn" while pressing delete you can delete to the right.

See you around town!


Amber Keyser said...

Oh, I also wanted to tell you wonderful I.N.K. bloggers that I read your posts delivered to my email. When one receives that way, your names don't show up and I have to go to the blog itself if I want to know who wrote a particular post. I'd love it if you'd sign the end of each one in text.

Gretchen Woelfle said...

I've been a Mac user forever and they just get better and better - and more beautiful too. Have fun!

Sue Macy said...

I've had a Mac laptop for several years and I love it, but in April I bought my first iMac--the 27 inch desktop. It's amazing. You can open four pages next to each other on one screen--great for editing and researching as you write. And it's beautiful. I love the One-to-One sessions, too, but everytime I have one I see something else in the store I want to buy.