Bard by BlueInkAlchemist, on Flickr

I love gizmos.

I’m sure a lot of other people do too. Handheld gaming consoles. Cell phones that also play TV shows. My mother just picked up a new iPod Nano and damn, is that thing slick. Touch screen, bright display, bigass internal storage… as they say, “the woiks.”

Writers especially seem to like gizmos. Scrivener is something of a software gizmo for writers that other writers will not stop raving about. Nevermind that, unlike the true artists out there, I don’t own a Mac. The aforementioned Shuffle’s the only iProduct I own. Still, I see a lot of creative folks making good use of iProducts – Chuck Wendig is using his iPad to tell tales of the Dreaded Dawntaint in his travels.

But I have to wonder. How much of banging on keys actually constitutes “writing”? We bang on keys to communicate, to play games, to balance checkbooks, search for stuff on the Internet, the list goes on. Writing is a different process in our minds, yes, but procedurally it seems like there’s little to keep it from all mushing together into one long amorphous string of fevered keystrokes.

For my part, just like a Nook or Kindle will never replace the weight of a real book in my hands, no keyboard or LCD monitor will ever replace the tactile satisfaction I get by pouring my creativity onto a piece of paper through the medium of pen. There’s a notebook in a vinyl cover from the Writer’s Museum in Edinburgh that contains the last third or so of Citizen in the Wilds. And when the going gets tough in my process, I toss out all the modern trappings and get back to basics. I put pen to paper.

Case in point, the ever-elusive query. I simply couldn’t figure out why the damn thing isn’t coming together in a way that any person who isn’t me interested in reading this book, let alone selling it. So on the train home on Friday, after I finished George RR Martin’s excellent novel A Game Of Thrones, I broke out the binder and my pen and started jotting down notes. I think I have a line on making a query that’s decent but just waiting to be rejected into a query that’ll grab the attention of someone who sees it cross their desk.

Now, I realize that in both typing out this blog post and translating the ideas born from the notes I’ve jotted into an electronic text file, I may come across as being a little hypocritical. But I’m also not going for an “unplugged” sort of lifestyle. Like I said, I love gizmos and I’m going to be using them for many, many years to come.

It’s just nice and fulfilling, on occasion, to do things the old-fashioned way.

Even if my penmanship is still a little sloppy.