My Kingdom For A Laptop
If I had a dollar for every time I heard the admonition “follow your heart” – a favorite of graduation speakers – I would be a wealthy man. It’s not bad advice. Who can argue with the proposition that one should pursue his or her heart’s desire in life, instead of accepting the yoke of a wage slave? Alas, the choice is rarely so binary or simple, unless you were born with the proverbial silver spoon in your mouth. For most of us, work is the price of survival. The desires of the heart must wait until our wage-paying toils are done.
Thankfully, technology has conveyed upon today’s writer two invaluable gifts: The computer and the word processing program. I take my computer everywhere and write every time I have a reasonable window of time to do so. Yes, a writer of yore could carry a stack of parchment and a pen (or a quill and inkpot) about the town and do the same. However, he or she could never match the velocity and flexibility factors offered by today’s tech.
When you are wrestling with a four-hundred-page manuscript, the task of moving, replacing and excising text, never an easy burden, is now so much more manageable. Equally important, today’s tech allows a writer to resolve those troubling inklings and queries that strike you in the latter half of the book: “What was her name?”, “Did I already address that seventy-five pages ago?”, and “Am I falling into the trap of repetitive word choice?” (check out how many times Gibbon used the word “insensible” in “The Decline and Fall of The Roman Empire”). Oh, I so wish I had a computer and Word when I was a lad of eighteen, better still, when I was ten (and no, I would not have whiled away the hours playing video games – at least not all of them).