Using New Tools

I took a typing test the other day, and observers were impressed because I was doing 53 words a minute. My mother would have been ashamed of me. (In my defense, I was able to do 70 once I got used to the keyboard. Alas, no one was watching then.)

My mother taught typing as part of a business skills course, even though she was actually an English teacher. When I was in the eighth grade, she promised me my own typewriter when I could type 50 words a minute. I did it, and I can still remember that it was a teal green color. A light-weight plastic manual typewriter that saw me all the way through college. My mom had an old royal — I loved that one for the sound of its keys. I once saw my mom type 110 words a minute on that thing.

Today I struggle with too many options, all with limitations. My desktop is a Mac and it is hooked up to my printer/scanner, but not to the Internet. (I live at the end of the road, remember.) I have a laptop, also a Mac, that I do most of my writing on, because I can lounge in bed or sit on the couch. It isn’t on the Internet either, but I can take it to Starbucks in town, and for the price of a cup of tea, I’m connected. The laptop also has all my photo editing and web design software — and if I can figure out how to hook it to the big monitor on my desk, I’ll be a lot happier.

A year ago, I bought myself a IPad for Christmas. Connectivity at the farm! But, alas, I really don’t like writing on it much. It doesn’t allow for the typing skills my mother drilled into me. I am typing this blog post on it, but that’s the extent of it. Great to have the Internet at my fingertip. : )

So I’ve developed a strategy of writing on my laptop, with my IPad next to me for research. When I’m ready to print something, I load it on a thumb drive, take it to the desktop Mac and print. Scanning photos for covers, I reverse the process. Thank God for thumb drives.

Last week, I found the App of my dreams, index cards. It allows me to keep track of my characters, design a timeline and store research. I know that there are several fine software programs that could do this and help me write my books, but that would require me to have one computer that could handle everything. Besides, Index Csrds is simple. Sometimes I don’t want one thing that does lots of things — and none of them well.

So now it seems to work. I can sit on the couch, laptop in my lap, IPad next to me as my research tool. Details get stored in Index Cards, ready for when I need them.

Why it is almost as simple as when I wrote term papers on that old manual typewriter with my note cards and research materials spread about on the kitchen table.

Almost.

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