Writer's Toolbox (Katherine Pritchett)

Every job is easier with the right tools. Just ask a plumber trying to replace a faucet with kitchen tongs. Or try to pluck your brows with a pair of pliers. What’s in my toolbox? Oh, lots of bright green tools: reciprocating saw, drill, brad nailer. And a pole saw. Circular saw. Weed eater. Mower. Power painter. All kinds of drill bits—oh, wait, you mean my writer’s toolbox.

Well, there I have all kinds of neat tech toys: a new 10” Asus tablet with detachable keyboard (very solid) that came with Office 2013. Because I lack the hand/eye coordination of today’s generation that grew up with video games, I use a wireless mini-mouse. I would prefer a Bluetooth mouse to keep my single USB port free, but I just ordered a four-port USB 3.0 hub so I can plug in my mouse receiver, my 1TB portable hard drive and my still-wired old Brother laser printer. I also have a wireless Brother ink-jet color printer for when I need color (or am too lazy to get up from the recliner to print a page or two).

One of the toys I also have is a Bluetooth portable speaker (smaller than my mouse) so I can listen to my daughter’s music with better sound than the Asus speakers afford. And then there’s my digital recorder (not much bigger than my mouse) for when I get great ideas while driving or being walked by the dog. And for good measure, a USB battery charger for mouse, camera and recorder batteries.
I also still have my 15” Dell laptop that was beginning to develop issues after four years. Once I get my desk cleared, I’ll use it as a desktop, with the portable hard drive allowing me to work from either platform. After many years of carrying a full sized laptop from one side of the country to the other, the Asus is a delight. I’m learning to work moving between mouse, touchpad, or touchscreen, whichever is more convenient for the task at hand.

Though I have a nice, comfy, supportive desk chair, I usually work from my recliner or my bed. Or my kids’ couch. Or an airplane seat. Or my front porch. I also have a big desk with bookshelves and a bulletin board in front of me, printer stand with drawers for supplies beside it, and more file cabinets with a desktop on the other side. My office is bright and sunny with a stereo in the corner, and reference books at hand.

I bought a new thesaurus recently, and stayed up an extra hour or so just enjoying the words. Chicago Manual of Style, maps and a baby name book also stand ready nearby, though much of my research comes from internet searches.

But the single most important, useful tool in my writer’s toolbox is my writer’s mind. The artist who paused a moment to stare at something in the mall outside the shop while doing my makeover will become a Russian immigrant who spotted a hit man for the Russian mob in Convergence, my next novel in the Richard Matthews series. The friendly gray cat with the pink belled collar who showed up on my porch (and continues to do so every time I turn into the driveway) might become a messenger in another story. Or a means for two characters to meet. Geese flying south at the end of winter, probably trying to temporarily avoid the Arctic cold front rushing our way, might become a herald of impending doom in an apocalyptic novel.

The eye, the ear, the nose, the tongue, the skin: all are ways of experiencing the world that a writer uses words to share. In short, it doesn’t matter if you use the newest technology or a number two pencil and Big Chief tablet to communicate. It’s your unique way of experiencing the world that is the most important tool in your toolbox.


Pat Davids said...

Working from a bed or recliner is my kind of office. You do have some nice tech toys.