My iPad

Posted April 29th, 2012 by Candice

There’s a little iPad envy over here.  All those smart-looking people with their paper-thin tablets, swooshing.   Who wouldn’t want to swoosh and have magical things happen? 

If I had an iPad, that one neat square-ish package would let me swoosh from e-mails to birdwatching apps to “Mad Men” to my grocery list to Anthropologie  to Facebook to Etsy to my blog to an e-book . . . I could do this stuff on my phone, too, plus take cool pictures.  (Don’t think I haven’t considered buying an iPhone just for the camera, Instagram and Hipstamatic.)  I could do so many things.  So so so so many things. 

But not much work.

It’s the same with the Net on my clunky old desktop computer, really, only without the swooshing.  I only mean to check my e-mail.  Or Google a fact.  Click, click, click.   Fifty clicks later–book reviews, a meatloaf recipe, gorgeous turquoise shoes I couldn’t wear in a million years–I don’t know where I am or what I was looking for originally.  I may have even blacked out.

Similar situation with the computer I only do my writing on.  Type, type, type.   That sentence looks good.  No, wait.  Fix the ending.  No, move the back to the front.  No, get rid of it.  What about the paragraph above it?  It’s looking a little puny.  

Sit, sit, sit.  At the end of the day I’ve advanced my book a whopping two sentences.  My neck hurts.  My butt died three hours ago.  Some days the writing goes great–I barely notice the time flying by.  But many days are like this one, tedious, rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.   I feel tethered to the keyboard.  Switching to my laptop is no help.  I’d still be prone to chopping and channeling.

My work asks me to write and write and write and if I sneak over to the Net to play a little, the work gets peeved.  Something is wrong.  Is it me?  The work?  The fact there’s no swooshing?  An iPad is not the answer.  If I got one, I’d be tethered to the iPad.

It’s the shape of my day.  I’m giving too much time to my work (yes!).  I’ve let it off the leash and it’s running wild and dragging me behind it.  My favorite writing instructor, Heather Sellers, says writers need structure to contain their work, a shape.  Instead of stating, “Today I’ll write chapter three (or else),” say, “Today I’ll go over my notes for chapter three and write the first scene.”   Put a square around the work, let it know it has a fence to deal with.

Last week, after one of those endless keyboard sessions, I dreamed of a clipboard with a box-like thing beneath to hold my work.  Do they even make such a critter any more?  Yes, they do.  Staples had mine in blue and in purple.  Also one in aluminum that would make me feel like the UPS man (not a bad thing).  Another with a calculator on the clip, though I didn’t like the idea of staring at numbers. 

Inside there’s room for my tablet, my journal, my pen.  That’s it.  I can pick up this square-ish clipboard and carry it everywhere, iPad-like.  To the sofa.  To my favorite diner.  With my trusty clipboard I can write by hand!  I’m less inclined to fix and fiddle and more encouraged to follow one slow deliberate sentence with another and see where things go.  

Plus I don’t have my entire book with me.  Not all those computer files to flick back and forth between.  Not all my three-ring binders or research folders.  Only what I need to do the writing within the square.   

My blue clipboard writing-box never needs charging.  Doesn’t need updating.  If I drop it, it’s not the end of the world.   Yeah, I love my homemade iPad.  Even if it doesn’t swoosh.