Musing on the Kindle

I was never particularly enamoured with the idea of getting a Kindle or similar ebook reader; I saw it as an expensive toy that would force me to re-buy books and, unlike the iPad, couldn’t even display comic books. I held onto this belief firmly until I was recently stuck in a hotel room in the outskirts of Milan with nothing to read. I had brought a book with me, of course, but I finished it earlier than anticipated and I was from then on bereft of prose. Had I a Kindle I would have been able to tap into the hotel wifi and pick up a new book, either free from the Gutenberg Project or something from Amazon’s ebook store; even PDF format books published under a Creative Commons license that I could have uploaded. But I had none of these and it pained me.

I realise though that, being an electronic device, I’d still have to put my book away on the flight during take-off and landing, an irritation that a paper novel doesn’t suffer from. And finally, I have an open question regarding regional licensing. All media is licensed for a region, and rights in one region do not necessarily transfer.

An example of this was when, upon learning that I had nothing to read, I logged into my LoveFilm account. I pay to have a certain number of streaming films every month, which means not having to wait until the physical disc arrives. However, I learnt that LoveFilm’s license to stream movies was only valid within the UK. Even though I was a UK resident and paid my bill in the uk, the fact that I was physically located in Italy meant they couldn’t give me access to my movies. I hope the Kindle doesn’t have this restriction, I haven’t tried looking into it yet, but I would certainly find this irritating.

I haven’t bought a Kindle, and there’s a chance I never will. But I am certainly less opposed to it than I used to be.

Site Changes and Names

I’d apologise, but I doubt it will be long before something else changes, though I’m much happier now with the readability of the text. This is supposed to be all about the words, after all. I’m not too enamoured with the menu at the bottom of the page and the banner image needs some work. But overall, it will do for now.

So that this update isn’t all dull near-apologies about the colours changing, I wanted to touch briefly on why I finally caved in and started a site using my real name, rather than the pseudo-anonymity of an alias. The short answer is that it’s the same reason that I removed the word “aspiring” that used to prefix the word “writer” on my Twitter bio. I decided to take the writing seriously and just because I’m not published or don’t have an agent or whatnot, doesn’t  detract from the fact that I am writing every day. As J.C Hutchins writes, you’re either writing, or you’re aspiring to some day write. If you are writing, whether for fun or profit, you are not aspiring, you are a writer.

The other reason was that I realised that anonymity on the internet doesn’t mean much these days. It’s either paper-thin and hence redundant, or it is so impenetrable that it actually gets in the way of readers interacting with you. As I said above, I’m taking the writing seriously and I want this to happen under my real name.

I do still have an employer who pays me wages for things that have nothing to do with writing at all, but my extra-curricular activities don’t detract from my job and, as it says in my disclaimer, “the opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent anyone else’s view in any way, including those of my employer.”

Good days and bad

Sometimes writing is really hard work. I don’t mean that in the sense that learning the craft and finding the inspiration is tricky. What I mean is that sometimes writing is like constipation, where I’m painfully squeezing out one word at a time before eventually realising that it’s still all shit. I hate those days.

Then there are days like today, where words flow freely and no challenge seems insurmountable. That radio play scene that was kicking my arse last night? Totally nailed it in 15 minutes on the train this morning.

In no way though would I ever use the term ‘writer’s block’ or apportion guilt to ‘my muse’. The latter has always particularly annoyed me. I know most writers who refer to their muse don’t mean this as a literal spirit of enlightenment, but I’ve never felt the need to anthropomorphise my difficulties as the act of some skittish metaphor who must be appeased by ritual and superstition.