The dictionary describes ‘essential’ as important, vital, fundamental, needed as opposed to wanted. The term must be objective then, right? Yet, what is essential in a situation for one person can, indeed, be different from what is essential for another. That sure does sound subjective to me. Does it sound that way to you?
The craft of writing has been around, literally, for eons (not to be confused with ions). During each age, the tools of the trade have changed, if only so slightly. Writing on paper (papyrus) has been the means to last the longest. Still, now that we’re firmly in the digital age, the use of this tool is playing second fiddle, if playing at all.
It’s a somber realization for me seeing that I grew up learning how to write print and cursive through grade school, using a Big Chief tablet and number two pencils. Although my penmanship was definitely legible, it wasn’t beautiful. It was something I always strived for though. Now, I rarely pick up a pen or pencil, and the stack of spirals I own sit in a drawer, most of them clean of any scrawling whatsoever. When I do use pen and paper, I’m appalled at how terrible my penmanship has become.
Therefore, one of my essentials for my writing craft is a keyboard, preferably on a computer instead of a word processor or typewriter.
The computer has everything to do with my next essentials, the dictionary and thesaurus. I have both in physical book form, but I find the ones online easier to use and, let’s face it, more up to date. There are times when I do miss sitting with the hardbound dictionary or thesaurus and just browsing through the millions of words. Although this can also be done on the internet, the emotional connection isn’t there. Maybe it’s just me and my inability to daydream online.
My fourth essential is maps. Like the two prior, I, most definitely, want the ones online. Trying to find that map that is going to give me the detail needed is near impossible away from the computer. I’ve hunted in libraries, travel agencies, Sociology departments at colleges, and sadly, have even tried atlases. The maps online are a God-send. No doubt about it.
Environment affects me to the utmost. Right now, my essentials in this area are not being met. I struggle more with the process of writing because of these deficiencies.
My desk, although a computer desk with the slide-out table for the keyboard, is too small. I cannot have reference books within my reach. I do, however, have what I call my goodie box where I keep more personal stuff within my grasp. It holds ibuprofen, hand cream, three pens I love to use when I do use a pen, sticky note pad, bookmarks, dinky flashlight (we have power outages here), and a square box of Kleenex. Could I have this box somewhere else? Sure, but my reference books still wouldn’t fit on this small desk, so I choose keep my goodies at hand. The reference books sit high on a shelf in back of me.
I do have a printer, an Epson. Unfortunately, it can’t sit on the TV cart I’m using for it so that it’s efficiently accessible to me. The wretched thing sits facing away from me. This means when I want to print something out, I must leave my chair to insert the paper correctly and make sure everything is working as it should. When the printing is done, I must get out of my chair again to gather it all up. Sure, a little bit of exercise is good for me. However, on days when my right leg and foot have decided to be obstinate, this wee bit of moving around becomes a big giant burden.
The area I have to work in is small. If I had the other things environmental-wise, all of it wouldn’t fit in this space. My druthers would be to have a quiet ten-foot by eight-foot room with one wall being all closet. The window would be situated so that I could use the natural light and even do a little daydreaming without moving from my keyboard. I’d have efficient electrical lighting throughout the room and an overstuffed chair to sit in while marking up my printed drafts and reading books about writing.
A coffee maker would be a nice luxury in such a room too.
Now then, those are my essentials. Other writers need transportation and a laptop so they can go to where they do their better work. Some need noise around them. (How do they stand it?) Still others are inspired by nature.
In my opinion, the term ‘essential’ is very subjective.
|This entry is in response to Joe Bunting’s post at The Writing Practice.|