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Sunday, 25 August 2013

KEEPING THE INTERNET OUT OF A WRITER'S OFFICE.

My office is my office once more. For too long after the loss of two computers, I was camped out in my library typing on an emergency laptop.
   Newsflash.
   ALL laptops are EMERGENCY laptops.
   No more messing about.
   I chewed the bullet, and ordered a new computer. Getting used to that device took time. Seconds. It worked straight out of the box, which is a standard feature of computers now. I remember the height of sophistication in those sepia-toned days – watching a man with a red flag break his wrist on the starting handle. Oh, I miss all that.
   Just as I'd miss Ebola.
   Office equipment counts against tax.
   What else is new? The separation of Church from State. Very important feature of a writer's life. As a Kindle author, it was ludicrous not having the internet at home. But as an author, it's ludicrous having the internet on tap.
   I set up my Vast Publishing Empire™ without direct access to the internet. Instead, I used the public library – with its cheery band of characters. (Drug-addicts/dealers.)
   They'd stand in out of the rain, before hitting the tiny pharmacy for their methadone appointments. Doesn't do, to crowd regular punters from the tiny pharmacy. Cheers for that.
   Do I judge? Only the level of noise in the town library.
   What did the local library do for me?
   For a start, there was a walk to the place – so I gained in terms of exercise alone. I was also granted internet access. Now and again. If the machines worked. And if special interest groups didn't descend like locusts to pre-book the computers.
   Access was free.
   My right of complaint is nostalgic. Looking back on the disadvantages, I'd still have used the place. Even though I sat next to another patron who was a thin body-hair away from arrest. He was the poster-boy for before and after overt drug-use in the library toilet.
   When the library grew useless on technical grounds, I turned to friends. And when further technical difficulties arose, I resorted to my phone. I published at least once from my phone. Mind-boggling. To jump back in time and tell my past self that…
   My past self would be amazed. Not at the time travel – I've dabbled in other centuries. Hey, you are going to publish on your phone one day.
   I must stress that publishing from my phone was a tedious operation. Blogging from my phone, even more so.
   What did the town library internet access do for me?
   It forced me to plan my operation. Secret rendezvous with data. This is what I must find out. I can't be guaranteed more than half an hour on a computer if the place is booked up or extra-busy…worse, both. So I have to get in, do what I must, and come away with results. Every. Single. Time.
   I wanted to do more. In came the new computer. Then I added the internet. The two went wonderfully together. What had I done? I'd merged Church with State. The word was written, and the word was not good. If the internet wrote books for me, I'd be on the internet. The internet doesn't write books for me.
   So here I am, back in my office. The laptop has all sorts of USB goodies plugged into it, and that renders the machine fit for human habitation – should I choose to live inside the works.
   Over in my library, lurks the internet computer.
   If I want to blog, I write and then transfer data using a USB stick. Instead of going to the town library, I take a few steps to my library. Though I now have ready access to the internet, I must keep that access as contained as it was in the Olden Times…
   For one thing, a writing computer should have near-zero-risk attached to it. It's very hard to introduce a virus to a machine that just sits there generating data instead of generating and receiving.
   Mainly, though, the internet is a distraction. I was lucky to have the internet for an hour at a time. Do I become luckier with constant access? No. Church and State are separate again.
   Advantages? I checked all my products on Amazon and revamped them this week. Fixed a glitch or two. Published all nine items. Then I revamped the blurb, based on tips I picked up from the internet. Sitting at home, trawling the internet for clues, I gained information and put it to use…
   So then I published all nine products again. The changes were small. What did I gain? Instant internet access when I really needed it – not when I wanted it. A writer's office shouldn't have a place for the internet. The internet is a vast electronic library housed in my paper library.
   That's where the creature stays. For those of you reading this on the go – people who write on the go – go without the internet. I did, for years. And I learned loads about writing – the hard way. This new temptation of the constant distraction is no temptation for me. I'm trying my best to use the internet, rather than letting the internet use me.
   It's strange, in that familiar way, to be writing in the office again. I'm back, though I was never really away. Anything else? Hell, yes. I can blog this any old time. In quiet surrounds. There are no noisemakers competing for attention.

Update. Naturally, I must return to the internet to post this blog. What do I find when I arrive? A digital newspaper featured my blog post on using HTML code. The online editor of the non-paper paper is Sean Woodward. That's @seanwoodward on the Twitter.
   Here's a link to his website. http://www.seanwoodward.com/loa/
   And here's a link to his newspaper. THE LONDON-PARIS-CYDONIA CHRONICLE.
   Now I'll post this blog, and give him a mention on the Twitter. Minimal time spent on the internet for some indefinable level of effort. Hm. I can see the T-shirt now.

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