Friday, May 30, 2014


Technology's great, when it works.

I've spent a good chunk of the week troubleshooting the ergonomic keyboard on my non-internet computer. You know, the one I write on?

The symptoms vary every time I turn the computer on. At first all the problems were on the left-hand side - I would type "A" and "A9" would appear, for example; then the left-hand side was fine and half the keys on the right-hand side wouldn't type, and so on. And some of the the troubleshooting steps online sources advised me to take involved typing in commands. And don't talk to me about the way computers assume you'll be able to access the internet when you select the "help" button.

But I finally determined at last that the problem was the keyboard, not the drivers or the ports or any of the other things that might be at fault, so Damon'll pick me up a new keyboard while he's running errands this afternoon, and in the meantime I'm swapping the keyboard on the internet computer back and forth in order to get things done online and on the other computer, which isn't inconvenient at all.

Technology's great, when it works. But this sort of thing makes me sad. Writing is still a relatively low-cost business to be in, requiring less start-up capital than any other enterprise I can think of. But writing professionals are increasingly dependent on technology in order to get any work done. I'm less wired up and technology dependent than anyone I know, but I have to have the keyboard; have to have the internet; have to stop dead, despite my brain working fine, when something goes wrong with my tools.

I could keep writing if all I had was a notebook and a pen, but if I lose access to my tech, I'm dead in the water. I can't sell anything if I can't type, print, share files, and e-mail. No starving in a garret and eking out a living by the pen, or even the typewriter, for a 21st-century freelancer. A base level of affluence is necessary to do the work that connects a story to an audience and an author to payment.

Which sucks. I wonder how much great writing we miss, for lack of universal access to the tools.

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