Sunday, March 29, 2015

A Technological Hiccup

For the past three months of 2015, I've been working on having a less internet-dependent life. I have a personality which tends slightly to the addictive, so I have to review my habits periodically, to make sure that I'm not too dependent on some crutch or other for passing the time. It's easy to find mindless substitutes on the internet for writing or working on projects at home. At the beginning of the year, I decided that internet usage was becoming such a habit for me, so I began working on cutting back.

The attempt has been pretty successful: instead of watching TV shows at night, I read. I've gotten a fair amount of editing and some original writing done. I'm enjoying the change.

Something came up this week, though, and made me realize that internet access isn't totally to be despised. My laptop's adapter cord died suddenly on Monday, so I ordered a replacement from Amazon. It arrived in a couple of days, and I plugged it in...to have no result at all. Apparently there is something wrong with the connector in the computer (not too surprising, as I have dropped it a couple of times!).

So here I am, stuck without one of the common tools of a modern writer!

I used about 50% of my remaining battery life getting my files backed up, and now I have to take my computer in for repairs with fingers crossed. In the meantime, though, I have no internet access and can't even use my computer for word processing. I'm borrowing my accommodating brother's macbook just to get this blog post composed.

As of Thursday, before the new adapter cord refused to work, my plan for the upcoming Sunday was to write a blog post, work on some web content for my church, and perhaps finish the chapter of House of Mirrors which I am revising. However, without a computer, I had to rethink my plan completely. I could, of course, write everything by hand, but as I would then have to retype it all at odd hours of the day when I can borrow family members' computers, that effort seems a little redundant.

It's actually a little alarming how dependent a writer's plans can be upon technology.

When I wrote the original draft of The Art of Dying, I handwrote the entire thing (some 500 pages!) and the work was definitely worth it, since it made me slow down and really analyze my style. It also proved to me that in case of a nuclear apocalypse - for example - I'd be able to keep on writing, as long as I could find a surface to write on.

With that in mind, then, I went over my various writing projects this morning while I was getting ready for the day, trying to decide which would be the best one to undertake by hand. Back when I was in college, I took Classical Greek for four years. I was the only person at my college who took it during a couple of my semesters (surprise, surprise!) and so I pretty much got to pick whatever translation project I wanted. Semesters were about 15 weeks long, so once I volunteered of my own will to translate ten psalms a week, so that I could get through the entire Book of Psalms from the Greek Bible in a semester.

It was kind of an insane undertaking, as far as the workload went, but extremely illuminating. 

After I finished the project, I was looking through the Latin Bible - these were the sorts of things we did at my college; it was a nerdy place - and discovered that there are two versions of the psalms. There's the Greek ones, and the Hebrew ones, and there are quite a few textual differences, even though the general meaning is the same. I decided that someday I'd also translate the Latin version of the Hebrew psalms into English, and then compare them to the Greek, to give me the basis for writing an English poem inspired by each psalm.

It's been about seven years since I did my Greek translation and I always have other projects going on, so I've not gotten around to the Hebrew/Latin translation yet. However, last night I went to a concert, because Vasnefy was performing in the choir, and I heard Bernstein's Chichester Psalms. They inspired me to attack my own psalm-related project. Moreover, when I translate, I always do it by hand first, before typing anything, so it would be an ideal undertaking for this time when I have very limited access to computers.

So this afternoon while I was waiting for some muffins to cook, I pulled out all my translation resources and got the first psalm done. I'm pretty excited, too, since I'm looking into a move and may not have internet until my finances get sorted out. This project will give me something to do while settling in and getting adapted to a new schedule.

In short, there are pluses and minuses to my temporary lack of computer. It helped me decide on a new direction while I'm dealing with other stuff (translation is less stressful than editing!), but also prevented me from working on some of my current projects. I'd be curious to know: has anyone else found that technology is a particular help or hindrance to their writing? Let me know in the comments, if you have a moment!

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