"Get yourself one of those little digital voice recorders and whenever you get an idea, talk to it and transcribe it later," advised a writer friend of mine. "No losing notes, no paper, no carrying notebooks around. Simple."
We had been discussing writing while we hung out at the taxi stand in the airport—two of how many hundreds of thousands of writers driving cab for a living, jawing about the art and mechanics of the sacred craft. Chris’s suggestion made a whole lot of sense, so I bought myself a digital voice recorder. Then, I remembered that I’m part Luddite.
I don’t care if it’s a hand-held video game, a television remote, a little voice recorder, an MP3, or the clock in the car—if it’s electrical and even slightly programmable—Houston, we have a problem. Which is why the Universe, in it’s infinite wisdom, didn’t instill in me a burning desire to be an air traffic controller.
Obviously, I must know how to operate a computer or you wouldn’t be reading these words, but my being able to use this particular piece of technology has been the result of many, many years of banging away at the damn things. I’ve owned approximately four computers in my day, and all of them have, at various times, failed on me spectacularly. I don’t just get the blue screen of death—I get sound effects and strobe, too. I know more about cars than I do about computers, yet I use my computer more than my car. Go figure. I was inordinately proud of myself last year when I learned how to upload pictures into my computer. That took an entire afternoon, two tearful phone calls to my significant guy, and a run to the photo place to ask them why the disk wasn’t working. The nineteen year old kid at the counter helped me figure out what I was doing wrong. If I were rich, I’d hire a nineteen year old kid to follow me around and explain how stuff works, and then take it away from me and make it work himself. (There’s a new career idea for you enterprising kids out there.)
Technology is not my friend. I’m reliant on it, I need it, but it is not my friend. I have a cell phone. I have a computer. I have an MP3, which I now know how to turn on and off. I have a television. I have a printer (still in the box). I still have a VCR that flashes "12:00" at me when it’s plugged in. I can’t bear the thought of getting a DVD right now—not after spending the last hour trying to figure out why this little plastic and metal object in my hand is not responding to the carefully spelled out instructions which I am painstakingly following. Right now it reads: "12:00".
I must remind myself not to buy anything programmable until I find the part of my brain that has FUNCTION written on it. Excuse me while I find a pen to write that down.