“Writers are fortunate people.”
Susan Cooper

author: Nicole J. LeBoeuf

actually writing blog

This is my Compaq Contura Aero 4/25. I bought it in 1994. It was discontinued even then.
Deliver Self From Temptation
Wed 2007-05-23 21:55:58 (single post)
  • 984 words (if poetry, lines) long

Look! (Where?) Over there! (At what?) Writing!

Triumphal fanfare, angels descend in a chorus, small children with little paper-unrolly noisemakers go 'tweeee'

So, like I said once or twice before (or maybe a few more than that), I attend a semimonthly writer's group, writing class, thingie, over which Melanie Tem and her dog Dominique preside with wisdom and exuberance after hours at West Side Books, aka The Big Purple Bookstore In Highland Square. Very informal thing. Whoever shows, shows. Sometimes manuscripts get critiqued (like my Captain Hook story last month). Sometimes not, and we just do in-class writing, or homework show-n-tell, or craft-n-industry discussions. Homework? Yes! Homework. Which you do if you feel like it. Melanie announces the homework prompt at the end of one class, and next time we meet, people who did something along those lines read it aloud.

The homework for tonight was to write something inspired by the seven deadly sins.

So, what the hell. I spun off "lust" and finally put on paper about three-fourths of the first draft of the Qabbalistic hostile corporate takeover story that's been knocking around in my head for some years now. "So, it's erotica," I told my classmates, "or at least erotic. Which is why I'm not going to share in until it's quite done."

"Erotic? Ooooh!"

"Yeah. A sort of erotic corporate horror story. With golems."

"...Right! OK."

See the pretty picture? That's what I wrote it on. Every once in awhile I remember my aging Compaq Contura Aero (not to be confused with the modern palmtop device of similar name), and I haul it out and charge up its battery and find a floppy drive for file transfer... and I write. And the funny thing is, stuff actually gets done.

The Compaq is not internet-enabled!

It could be. It once was. Give me a while with Telix and find me a phone number to dial and I'll possibly even remember how to make it work. But today, unlike in 1994, there aren't nearly as many dial-up text-only internet access points. Plus our telephone line gets AM radio, so, not so good for data transfer.

In any case: Light, ultra-portable, bump-resistant, Dvorak enabled, and Totally Temptation Free.

Well, almost temptation-free. Maybe 97.3% temptation-free. Because there's only so long you can play QBasic games like Nibbles and Gorilla before you're bored stiff. (I'm pretty good at Nibbles, though.)

What reminded me this time around was Maud's Blog. Maud Newton blogs splendiferously, and last month she blogged about Stephen Elliot's article in Poets&Writers: "Surviving a Month Without Internet." It wasn't so much the novelty of going off the grid for 30 days that resonated with me--I'm a total online junkie, I'm a telecommuting freelance writer for goodness's sake--as it was these excerpts:

Since I'm most creative in the mornings, I've decided no Internet until after lunch.
Divide your day into online and offline. Studies have consistently shown that people with more screens open get less done. Multitasking slows down productivity.... Dedicate at least half of your day to handling non-Internet tasks exclusively. Write a list of things you need to do when you do get online so your Internet time will be more productive.
The urge to screw around is always strongest when the work's not going well. And if you work at a computer, screwing around is only a click away. But when the work's not going well is exactly the time to turn the Internet off.
Now, I have terrible self-discipline. Fn-F2 turns off my Dell's radio, but it turns it back on again. I leave the house with the best of intentions, but the moment I sit down with my coffee and turn on the 'puter, it's "Oh, just one Distilling game on PuzzlePirates... just one brief run through my blog trawl... just five more minutes...."

If I leave the house with the Compaq, I don't get "just one more" anything. I get Nibbles, and I get WordPerfect 5.1 staring me in the face.

And--you know what?--when I look at that computer with its tiny keyboard and its monochrome screen filled from edge to edge with WP51 exactly as it was meant to back in 1990, it's like someone turned on the Batsignal for the Muse. My poor Pavlovian association-driven brain has one last surefire writing association that I haven't totally destroyed by being lazy: The Compaq Contura Aero means Writing.

And it ain't gots no nets no more.