Week 11 Portability

Size matters when it comes to portability: 15″ MacBook Pro on the left, 12″ MacBook on the right

After last week’s talk about the software I am using to draft my novel, today I’m going to touch on some issues I have when I want to take my writing sessions out and about. I’d be lying if I said this post wasn’t prompted by that lovely powder-blue iPad Air which Apple have just announced.

Before I start with all that, though, how about a quick look at my creative writing progress this week?

I’ve written more than 500 words per day each day of the past week, so that’s a perfect score in my books. I’ve added 6,080 words to the first draft of my novel, bringing the word-count to date to 93,846; this has led to the realisation that the draft is likely to go over my target of 100,000 words, which is no cause for concern. I’d rather that than rush to the end in a way that isn’t consistent with the slow, dreamy quality of the earlier parts of the work.

My best day was Tuesday when I did two separate writing sessions, one in the morning as well as my regular evening stint. As I’ve become very set in my habit of writing in the evening, it was good to know that I could sit down at any time of the day and click into novel-writing mode. I don’t like the idea of becoming too fixed on a certain routine, perhaps because I know it is in my nature to struggle when my routines are disrupted. My lowest word-score was last Sunday, although that was caused by a sudden change of heart over a particular relationship which led me to re-draft some of the piece I had written on the Saturday. Since this resulted in a relationship that feels much more believable and less difficult to me, I’m definitely counting it as progress. I should note, before I move on, that I’m writing again about some conflict between characters and I am beginning to understand that I don’t like writing about conflict. I really enjoy writing about characters enjoying each others’ company, or about people questioning their own lives, but I get very uncomfortable writing the slightly sniping conversations people indulge in when they are not getting along.

Now, taking writing out and about. As I alluded to at the start of this post, I have been pondering the problem of portability with my writing. This has been slightly on my mind since I changed from the 12″ MacBook which I had been using for almost five years to the much larger and heavier 15″ MacBook Pro. There are a lot of positive things to say about this bigger laptop: multiple USB ports plus others that I haven’t even explored (my 12″ MacBook had one USB-C port which had to be shared between charging and connection of peripherals); a screen that will display the triple-pane view of Scrivener that I prefer without taxing my eyesight, a keyboard that doesn’t look much larger than the one on the 12″ MacBook but is significantly nicer to type on; a battery that is still in good condition. The only negative issue is lack of portability.

The 12″ MacBook was the most portable laptop I have ever owned and I could easily pop it in my bag and carry it about comfortably. This let to the discovery that my iPad had become redundant as the MacBook was more versatile and every bit as easy to carry. Even if I only want to take my writing out and about very occasionally, now is the time to address the question of how I am going to achieve this because there is nothing worse than being struck by the thought that you want to write in a different location and only then trying to figure out how.

My first thought was that powder-blue iPad Air hovering on the horizon; it is a beauty. I have long maintained that the iPad is at its best as a satellite to a desktop computer and, with the 15″ MacBook Pro coming close to being desk-bound, perhaps this is the combination lurking in my future. I must admit I would be seriously considering this if it were not for the fact that the Scrivener software is much more robust and advanced in its MacOS version than the iOS version used by the iPad. If the transition between devices isn’t seamless then, despite the strong lure of the iPad, I can foresee frustrations if I should choose that route.

My thoughts then turned to a backpack that would increase the portability of the 15″ MacBook Pro, but I soon found that these are just a bit too big for my liking. In fact, looking at any kind of carry sleeve, case or bag to suit a 15″ laptop has made me realise that nothing much has changed from the laptop bags that we used to lug around at the turn of the millennium. They still seem to be mainly black and lacking in sleekness.

Thus my ponderings on portability have ground to a halt. Unless I am prepared to break the habits that I have built to keep me sane and happy – namely (1) to avoid Ebay like it is the devil’s own creation, (2) to only look on Amazon when I’m pretty sure I don’t want whatever it is I’m looking for, (3) not to buy clothes and accessories in black – the 15″ MacBook remains a machine which is happiest at home. Perhaps the answer is that I don’t need to work on my writing anywhere else. Perhaps the pandemic will last forever. Perhaps I will win the lottery. If I do happen to win the lottery, I might use a bit of the money to set up a business selling nice, practical bags and sleeves for our technology, but surely someone, somewhere in the UK must already have done that?

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