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Archive for October 3rd, 2008

A few weeks ago, my laptop winked at me. And I thought, how cool! My laptop and I have such a rapport that she actually winks at me! Who says magic doesn’t exist in today’s world? After all, she and I have clocked thousands of miles across the globe. Together we’ve written about—

And then she winked again. And blinked. Gagged. And died.

Oh.

But even as I slapped her (when was the last time I backed up my work?), attempted CPR, and gave her the “you will not die today, soldier!” speech, it occurred to me just how far we really had come, and not just in mileage.

In the beginning, I used my laptop only when I was traveling. I much preferred the desktop computer for everyday raw, mean, sit-down-and-crack-yer-knuckles writing. It had the ergonomic keyboard and the big wide screen. Most importantly, it sat squarely in the middle of my writing sanctuary, my bubble of silence.

When I was writing American Quest, I remember talking to a friend who liked to take her laptop to the local Starbucks when she had work to do. She enjoyed the buzz of the people around her.

“Oh, I could never do that,” I’d said. “I need absolute silence when I work. It’s hard enough as it is just to keep the family at bay.”

And she’d eyed me and said, “That must be tough, always having to have perfect conditions. Imagine how productive you’d be if that weren’t the case.”

This rankled me. And it got me thinking.

As it was, my ability to write was sorely diminished when I had company over or when I was traveling for writer conferences, even though there was so much downtime in airports. So I decided to join my friend at the Starbucks the next day, laptop in hand, for one hour. Worse come to worse, I figured I would spend an hour fidgeting around and get nothing done. And that’s pretty much what happened. Except I did squeeze one tiny paragraph out of it; nothing that could earn a Pulitzer but definitely useful—and worth trying again. I realized if I could tune out the hustle and bustle enough to manage one paragraph, I probably had it in me to do more.

And so, for a couple of days a week, I lugged my laptop to coffee shops, park benches, diners, or whatever other public places struck my fancy so I could do some writing. I found the more I kept it up, the more I was able to produce, and the more noise I could tolerate without losing momentum. I finally got to the point where I was just as productive outside my sanctuary as in it. Sometimes even more so. I never liked connecting to the public wireless Internet services because it seemed wasteful if you had to pay for it and virus-ridden if you didn’t. So when I wrote outside my sanctuary, I did so off-line. This meant I had to set aside any Internet research until after I was finished. And, guess what? This one accidental habit has probably been the single greatest productivity boost of my entire writing career.

By the time I finished American Quest, my writing momentum was flourishing. I could keep it up all day, anywhere. And I was getting more exercise by getting out there and toting my big, bulky laptop along. And sure enough, when I needed to fly off to Gulf Shores, Alabama for a party (and that’s a whole ‘nuther story), I wrote so much in the airport that waiting for the flight was no biggie at all. Me and my laptop. May she rest in peace.

So am I back to working on the desktop now that the laptop’s gone? Nah. The big computer still has its uses, but the nanosecond I realized my laptop was unsalvageable, I ordered a new one. In fact I am typing on her right now. She’s light and svelte and shamelessly red, built for speed like a race car. A good thing, too, because this new laptop and I, we got places to go.

–Sienna Skyy
Join Sienna Skyy, author of the fantasy and science fiction novel, American Quest (The Story Plant, Sept. ’08), as she virtually tours the blogosphere in October on her first virtual book tour with Pump Up Your Book Promotion!

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