Sunday, November 25, 2012

The mind is willing. But the MacBook?

In my never-ending quest to straighten out my question-mark posture, I've decided to change up my computer hardware situation. Don't get me wrong: I love my MacBook Air and I'd kiss its feet if it had them. But my body is struggling right now and I've got to start thinking long-term, which means I've got to start thinking about ergonomics. 

The screen on my laptop is just so low that it puts me into a hunch. After a few minutes of typing, my neck aches and my shoulders spasm. This can't go on much longer; I've got my future to think about. After all, if this writing thing doesn't pan out, I only have my looks to fall back on. 

So I bought a new keyboard and a Samsung monitor today. The monitor was on sale and, more importantly, is height adjustable. Woo hoo! I thought. My spine will be ballerina straight! 

A couple of hours ago, my fiancĂ© and I hooked the screen up to my laptop and new keyboard, turned it on and... TAD duh. It should have been good enough. The specs were on target and the reviews were mostly glowing. But the words on the screen were surrounded by this "ghosting effect" that made my eyes strain. The resolution just didn't make the grade.

I don't blame Samsung, though. I blame Apple. They sold me the best crack on the street and now anything else is just plain regular crack, cut with baking soda and mixed together in a bathtub. A really grubby bathtub in, like, a frat house or something.

So the Samsung is going back. And until I win the lotto and can afford an Apple monitor, here's what I'll be using instead:

Yep. That would be my $2000 Air perched on a cardboard boxed stuffed with photos from my drunken trip to Europe. 

What about you? Does your body ache from writing? What setup works for you?

Saturday, November 10, 2012

My name is Emily and I'm addicted to writing workshops.

I just returned from a particularly horrible writing workshop at the Toronto Public Library. Nothing against the writer who ran the workshop; she did the best she could. It was the writers who brought this session to a brand new low. If you're like me and you're also addicted to workshops, then you'll recognize many of the participants as the usual suspects: the bitter, unpublished punks; the very old, very determined memoirists; the awkward introverts; and the token insane woman – who sat next to me, of course – and who, every 20 minutes or so, barked like a dog in the grip of a nightmare. (There were some lovely people, too, of course. But they're no fun to write about.)

The theme of today's workshop was breaking through barriers to writing. You know what one of the barriers to writing is? Thinking and talking too damn much about writing instead of actually writing.

Until today, I’ve never truly been honest with myself about why I’m so drawn to writing workshops. I say I’m doing them for social reasons, you know, to meet more writers, to feel less isolated in what is a very isolating craft. But does an actual socially-driven writing workshopper spend hours trolling the Internet for free seminars? Does she constantly refresh her literary event app (and yes, this exists) to make sure – 100% sure – that she isn’t missing out? Does she make desperate phone calls to librarians begging “Please. PLEASE. Can you fit me into this workshop? I NEED this workshop.” Of course not. This is the behavior of a person using writing workshops not for social networking or developmental opportunities, but as a crutch. This is the behavior of me.

And afterwards, after the workshop is over, have I learned something deep about the art of writing or my process? Have I made new literary connections? Have I broken down creative walls? No. All I’ve got to show for it is a backpack full of fucking pamphlets and three hours of wasted time. Time that I should have been using to write.

This is not to say that other writers may not benefit greatly from writing workshops. It's just that for me, at this stage in my "career," I know exactly what my problem with writing is: not writing.