Sunday, November 22, 2020

Fighting fire with fire: the Freewrite Traveler

There is an old saying, that fire is a good servant, but a bad master. The same can be said of technology. My iPhone is a good example: I love it because I can shoot lots of video on it, and take thousands of photographs. I can use it for voice memos when I want to dictate an idea. I can check emails and texts. I can pay for things. I can buy tickets for plane, train, book places to stay when travelling. I can even call my Mum.

But it has a downside. Namely: notifications, and the addictive nature of the damn thing. I now have app limits set, and try to avoid checking my email every five minutes. You can get into this weird fugue state where you expect it - for some unknown reason - to be the bearer of absurd good news. And picking it up again and again throughout the day does not bring any such news, only takes you more and more out of yourself; away from the matter at hand.

I am now opting to fight fire with fire: I have a new piece of kit to write with. A small, very lightweight word processor called a Freewrite Traveler. Yes, that’s right  - a word processor. All you can do on it is write, and then sync with the cloud (or you can email draft). I haven’t written on a word processor in twenty years. But since it arrived yesterday, I have found myself drawn to it, and words have come easily.

I am pleasantly surprised. The keyboard and e-ink screen are nice, although I almost wish the screen was backlit. This is not a problem, though: I just work at a desk with an angle poise light, or sit near the window. There is a slight lag between typing and the words appearing on screen. This is not a problem either. It can also sometimes appear to freeze, but I think that is more a case of my wifi being very slow, and the Traveler attempting to sync with Dropbox. This is not a problem either.

In fact, these are small prices to pay for the joy of having no distractions. I’m so tired of email, of trivia, of 'some useless information/supposed to fire my imagination' to quote Messrs Jagger and Richards, even of online petitions (although I think it is important to sign them - we are at war with capitalism, consumerism, materialism, patriarchy). 

There comes a time when you have to close your door, and let your own words come. With the aid of the Freewrite Travler, I find that words are indeed coming, that something has been released. The odd thing about the Traveler is that it makes me want to write. And I am not going to question that.

Thursday, November 05, 2020

Two events to celebrate David Lindsay & A Voyage to Arcturus


This year - 16th September, to be exact - marks the centenary of the publication of the extraordinary metaphysical fantasy novel A Voyage to Arcturus, the first book by the relatively neglected Scottish author David Lindsay (1876-1945)

Two online events are coming up to celebrate Lindsay's work. The first takes place on 19th November, organised by the Centre for Fantasy and the Fantastic at the University of Glasgow. This will feature author Nina Allen, and scholars Douglas A. Anderson and Professor Robert Davis. The event runs on Zoom from 1800-1930 (UK time). More info and tickets can be found here.

The second event, which I am helping to organise, will take place on 9 December via the website of the Scottish Storytelling Centre. This will run from 1300-1800, and will feature presentations on not just A Voyage to Arcturus, but also Lindsay's other novels, The Haunted Woman, The Violet Apple, Devil's Tor, and The Witch. Composer David Power will talk about writing Lindsay-inspired music, and I will be showing a preview of the film I have made about Lindsay's work. More info and tickets can be found here.

Photo: David Lindsay, c. 1914. Courtesy of the Estate of David Lindsay.

Sunday, November 01, 2020

Bridport Shortlist


In a bit of poetry news, my poem 'The Silence in the Hall' was Shortlisted for this year's Bridport Prize.